Warrants have been issued for their arrest!
Further details and information on how you can help or protest in solidarity with the activists will be issued as soon as possible.
On Feb 15th, two members of Householders Against Service Charges (HASC), Joe Moore and James McBarron were fined £95 and £75 by the Cork Circuit Court under the Litter Act. They were ordered to pay the fined within 28 days or face imprisonment of 3 days at Cork Prison. Both activists, as part of the ongoing campaign against the 'Bin Charges' (see below for further details), have pledged not to pay the fines.
In mid-March, Cork Corporation refused to pass a motion calling on the City Manager to terminate the prosecution of the HASC activists. Instead, throughout March and April, Cork Corporation proceeded with a further round of prosecutions. Now a total of 13 people face jail for periods ranging between 3 and 5 days. Later this month more activists will be going on trial. All have pledged not to the pay 'the Litter fine' and are committed to defying this unjust law and tax.
[A Personal report from a Workers Solidarity Movement, these reports are posted to the Ainriail list when first written] Note: Pictures are ultra compressed a week or so after they are uploaded to this site to save space on the server.
The above court fines under the Litter Pollution Act (1997) arise out of HASC's policy of dumping uncollected domestic rubbish outside Cork City Hall every Monday night at 7.30 pm. However HASC denies that it is engaged in any act of 'littering'. Since mid-August 2000, the Corporation has instituted a policy of not collecting the rubbish of any household in the Cork city area that is refusing to pay its yearly 'Bin Charge' (currently set at £140 per year.) This Bin Tax is a unilateral and NEW tax imposed on workers and their families, despite the fact that PAYE workers in Ireland already shoulder the biggest part of the country's tax bill. Irish workers already pay for the upkeep of water, refuse and general public services. They already pay the major share for the upkeep of hospitals, schools and roads. Why should they accept a further round of tax levies? THEY HAVE PAID FOR THE SERVICE ONCE ALREADY!
In recent years, Ireland has been riven with tax scandals and corruption. Only this past fortnight, the Government has introduced another 'amnesty' for major tax evasion - the THIRD MAJOR AMNESTY FOR THE RICH. Clearly the Govt is intent on looking after its own cronies in big business. Its seems that if your are a MAJOR tax cheat, you can expect to get away with a small rap on the knuckles. However if you are a worker and you stand by your right to pay only a 'fair share' of the tax burden, you get slapped in jail, right away.
Last Summer, Cork Corporation went on the offensive in its campaign to make Cork workers foot the bill for the collection of domestic rubbish. They refused to 'collect' the rubbish of any house where the bill for the Bin Tax was outstanding. They issued 'collection stickers' for those households who were 'paid up' and instructed Corporation workers not to collect the rubbish from any house 'that was not displaying a paid up sticker.' This action by Cork Corporation has been described as 'illegal and hazardous' by HASC and IT IS for this reason the campaign has taken the unusual step of organising for 'uncollected rubbish' to be left at Cork City Hall (where the Corporation offices are) so that the Corporation can see for itself the consequences of its unreasonable and hazardous behaviour. On foot of these weekly 'dumping protests' by HASC (now ongoing for nearly 11 months), the Corporation has issue multiply fines under the Litter Act to those participating in the protests. The court cases on Feb 15th arose out of the non-payment of these fines and were initiated and carried forward at the instigation of Cork Corporation, a publicly elected body!
Do the people of Cork, who elected the current Corporation, support these threatened jailing? No way! Have the people of Cork even been asked their opinions on the matter? Not on your life! In fact many of the councillors now sitting on the Corporation have been elected on an 'anti-service charges' ticket. Yet these councillors and the City Manager are now content to drag two activists through the courts and into prison, as part of their draconian plan to make the people of Cork pay for their own rubbish collection service.
Joe Moore, James McBarron and Michael Joyce are now facing immentent imprisonment. All are long standing activists with HASC. Joe Moore is also President of The Cork Council of Trade Unions and is a member of the Communications Workers Union
So called 'Service charges' were introduced throughout Ireland (South) in the 80s as a proposed means of funding some local Goverment services - primarily water and refuse provision. We were told that we could no longer 'expect' of have such services provided for free! In fact, as HASC and others have long argued, workers have always being paying for these services of local government through their normal tax take (the PAYE tax); the imposition of a further local 'levy' - the Service Charge - was, in other words, a form of double taxation. Many politicians have built their careers on 'opposing' Service Charges, only to change 'their' minds after being elected. It was the mass campaign, known as the Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charge Campaigns, that dealt the original Service Charges a fatal blow back in 1997/98. The FDAWCC was a mass campaign build in local areas that advocated non-payment and direct action. It was hugely successful and saw the withdrawal of the tax on the basis that it was 'uncollectable'. Beginning last year, Service Charges 'returned' this time under the guise of 'Bin' or 'Refuse' charges. Local authorities claim to be acting in the interests of the 'environment' by collecting this new tax, whereas in fact it's just a way of making you pay again for something you've already paid through the nose for once in your normal tax. Already in areas where there is no campaign opposing their presence, Bin Charges have already sky rocketed.