By Neans McSweeney, South-East Correspondent
THE Waterford Council of Trade Unions is urging a combined Waterford City and County campaign against bin charges.
The call comes following the emergence of a new campaign against the double taxation in Waterford County. The imposition of a flat charge of €150 per year plus €13 for every lift of the black bin in the county has seen several protests since the New Year from householders who are refusing to pay these charges.
WCTU vice-president Dick Roche: "When bin charges were first introduced we were told that the cost would remain low and the charge was justified by the introduction of wheelie bins etc. However, as many of us predicted, the charges have risen annually until it now costs several hundred euro each year for an average sized family in the county.
"These charges were, right from the start, the forerunner to the privatisation of refuse collection. Several councillors in the city and county made the argument that they had to support charges because the alternative was privatisation.
"This argument has never made any sense, private companies will only take over a service if they can see that a clear profit can be made, the only way to show a profit can be made is for the local authority to bring in charges and increase them ever year. Charges pave the way for privatisation. This can be seen all around the country with private companies running the refuse collection in a majority of local authorities, with exorbitant prices and scrapping of any waiver system which may have existed.
"The other argument trotted out by those who support this double taxation is ‘the polluter pays’. We create waste, therefore, we must pay to clear it up. In reality, domestic households create a tiny fraction of the waste in Ireland, industry and agriculture create the vast majority of waste, yet it is we who are blamed for the ‘waste crisis’ and told we must foot the bill to clear it up. We have no control over industry and the amount of packaging on the goods we buy. If the Government is so committed to solving the waste crisis, why won’t they tax companies which produce excess packaging?"
"Bin charges are a double taxation. We already pay for essential services through PAYE contributions. When rates were abolished in 1979, a 1% levy was placed on PAYE to pay for services like refuse collection, water etc.
"The trades council is planning to convene a meeting which will bring together anti-service charges campaigners in the city and county to push for the abolition of these charges altogether. The time has come for residents to say enough is enough and we won’t be ripped off anymore."