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UPDATE:SIPTU Leader On Budget And Future of Left

Update November 1


Jack O’Connor on Newstalk Breakfast Oct 31-Eve of Demonstrations


Extracts from Interview

“Preventing the introduction of charges  would mean the people of Ireland paying more not less for water–People of Ireland would pay twice as much—–If the Irish people don’t pay their charges to the Irish water company it will lead to privatisation of that company— Abolishing charges doesntn’t mean we wont pay, we will pay more,at least  twice as much more”


Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast Oct 31, SIPTU President Jack O Connor withdrew the SIPTU threat to join the water charges protests to-day even though the government has not acceded to the union’s demand for a refundable tax credit to cover all normal use of water.

Clearly,the threat to join the demonstrations last week was a manipulation designed to deflect internal pressure from members on the issue.

The interview with Jack o’Connor  carried below and the new SIPTU statement issued yesterday are tissues of deception designed to cover up the capitulation of Siptu to water charges.

Irish Water has been set up commercial entity to sell water to consumers.

As such it is subject  to EU rules preventing state aid to commercial companies even when owned by the state

Jack O’Connor knows that it would be illegal for the state to effectively  pay all charges for normal water usage under EU directives. THE GOVERNMENT IS SAYING SO!!!!

He is also accepting that low and middle income recipients would have to pay for future investment in water provision . As can be seen in the post “Irish Super-Rich Awash with Money” on this Blog, The top 10,000 have a total of almost 6 billion in income between (595,000 per year each on average) and the Irish Rich now have shares and bank deposits (Fiancial Assets) valued well above peak boom levels. Why not get the money for investment from them!


All the current and future governments have to do is to freeze the allowances and allow the charges to rise each year. This can be done without privatisation. Remember what happened to the “waiver” on bin charges!

Making water a commodity rather than a universal public service or public good  makes it far easier to privatise. Bin charges were the beginning of the road to privatisation and lower pay for SIPTU members(eg Grehound Dispute)

We are being led up the garden path by Jack O’Connor and the Labour Party to which SIPTU remains affiliated.


UPDATE Saturday  October 25

The presure on SIPTU to JOIN the Right2Water campaign is having effect

The statement below by the National Executive Committe  of SIPTU threatens to join the demonstrations next Saturday unless government provides a non-refundable tax credit to every household to meet the normal needs of the household for water.

The problem about this is that even if it were conceded, it would enshrine the position of paying for water in legislation. After the next election, the new government could simply reduc/abolish the tax credit and increase the charges.

SIPTU should simply join the campaign and mobilise its members now for Saturday next!

Unfortunately, there is no mention in the statement ionbelow of the action of the Labour Party in voting to approve water charges in a Dáil vote last Thursday. SIPTU is affiliated to Labour but made no call on the party to vote against the charges in the Dáil. UNITE THE UNION has already disaffiliated from LABOUR due to the party support for austerity including pay and pension cuts

SIPTU NEC statement on water charges

Date Released: 24 October 2014

At its monthly meeting today (Friday 24th October), the National Executive Council of SIPTU agreed the following statement on the issue of water charges.

1.      The Government must take a step back and rethink its approach on the way it is implementing the water charges regime. It must defer the payment which is due in the Spring of 2015 and develop a way of providing for the new investment that is required over the next number of years to fund the provision of a high quality treated water supply in a way that commands a reasonable degree of acceptance, while retaining it in public control and ownership.

2.      The new approach must offset the cost of an adequate supply of treated water to meet each household’s normal domestic needs, while preserving the incentive for conservation.

3.      We believe that the Refundable Tax Credit option, which would cost less than €350m per annum, is the best approach, thus far at least.

4.      As it stands, and in the absence of such a rebalancing measure, the proposed charging structure is profoundly regressive and inequitable. This is because, whereas people’s normal need for water doesn’t vary greatly, the impact of the charge affects those on lower to middle incomes to a much greater degree in relative terms than the wealthy. The plain fact of the matter is that there are far too many people who simply cannot pay, and too many more who will find it extremely difficult to do so.

5.      If the Government does not adjust its approach, we will seek engagement with others in the trade union movement, as well as relevant civil society organisations, with a view to developing an agreed policy solution to provide for the necessary investment in the water supply in a manner that retains it in public ownership and control and conducting a campaign on that basis.

6.      Abolishing charges and reverting to the general taxation system will not mean that people pay less. In fact, it will mean paying more through increased taxation or further cuts in public services or both.*  Indeed, we will pay more still for the water we use, because in the absence of measures to incentivise conservation, we will also be paying for the amount that others waste.

7.      A campaign that does not identify a clear policy solution could open the avenue for privatisation of this essential public utility, notwithstanding what the law says, or the declared commitments of the main political parties.** This could come about by reason of the inability of Irish Water to collect the revenues necessary to enable it to remain solvent as a commercial entity. This, in turn, would open the way for the introduction of private money to the detriment of necessary investment in favour of profit taking, as occurred in Eircom.

8.      The privatisation of the domestic refuse collection service provides a salutary lesson. Everyone now pays the domestic waste charge, but it goes to swelling the profits of private operators. Thousands of people on lower incomes whose charges were waived now have to pay the full cost. Meanwhile, the terms and conditions of employment in the service have been reduced to deplorable levels.

9.      We also call on everyone to refrain from all forms of attacks and intimidation of workers. These cannot be condoned or defended in any circumstances.
*See point 3 of “Background notes” attached here.

** See point 4 of “Background notes” attached here.


IS SIPTU JACK O’Connor hiding on Water Charge Issue?

To-Day John Douglas, General Secretary of MANDATE TRADE UNION called on the government once again to reconsider its position and to abolish water charges in an interview on RTe News at ONE. To its credit MANDATE and UNITE have put significant resources into the Right2Water Campaign. John is also the current President of ICTU but he was speaking on behalf of MANDATE

Fianna Fail has put down a private members motion calling for the suspension of the water charges. This is not of course enough but it would seriously weaken the government position if passed.

WILL JACK O’CONNOR AND SIPTU INSIST THAT LABOUR PARTY TDs VOTE FOR THE MOTION or- as usually happens in the Dáil -against the amendment which the government will put down in favour of the charges?

Will SIPTU Continue to Support Labour Leader Joan Burton and the imposition of water charges?

I am asked on twitter how Siptu Jack O’Connor can “make” the Labour Party  vote against the water charges

The answer is simple. The affiliation of SIPTU to LABOUR is almost the sole support of Labour after the local, European and the two bye-elections. UNITE has already dissaffiliated. If SIPTU threatened to dissaffiliate , Labour would have little choice but to withdraw support from the charges.

Even a statement by Jack O’Connor calling for the abolition of the charges would have a huge effect. Any hope the government may have had of collecting the charges would be at an end. Its up to Jack O’Connor!!!!!


There is an urgent need for a discussion on the way ahead for the Labour, Trade Union and Republican movements. SIPTU is by far the largest Irish (32-county) union and the main current and historic Irish workers organisation. The Labour Party , has been a relatively marginal organisation, since the end of the War of Independence. I will address Jack O Connors contribution shortly.

In another post on this Blog, a recent article by the SIPTU Leader in the Sinn Féin monthly magazine, An Phoblacht, is carried.   The title of the post is “What would A Sinn Féin Led Government Do?”


Jack O’Connor, General President and Leader of SIPTU  on Tonight With Vincent Browne (TV3)  Tuedsay Oct 14   Budget Day



Jack O Connor :The People who benefitted most (from the budget)were between 30 and 70,000 and people below 12,000 but —any Budget that does not impose a wealth tax and does not deal with the allowances wealthy people enjoy is unfair-good for wealthy. This will continue while the majority support parties of the centre right

Vincent Browne:  Some say it is because people like you support such parties

JO’C:  I support the Labour Party

VB   That is a party of the centre right

JO’B   No, The Labour Party is a party of the left. Labour has sacrificed itself protecting ordinary people to the extent that that was possible in government. It had to do this because 60% of the population voted for the centre right9in the last election)

VB:  Why have the Irish people been so unprepared to protest unlike Greece, France. Some say it is because the trade unions haven’t been prepared to do anything about the unfairness of targeting those on low and middle incomes for austerity

JO’C:  The trade unions led or participated in all the initiatives around these issues over the last 6 years.

INTERJECTION:     You weren’t there on Saturday Jack! (Mass Demonstration of 100,000 against Water Charges-PH)

VB: Why weren’t you there on Saturday Jack?

JO’C:   Unions led that demonstration and the Right 2 Water campaign.

VB :     Yes UNITE Trade Union for example

JO’C:   The reason we weren’t there is because we have spent a long period of time this year lobbying for a refundable tax credit to cover the normal requirement for water.

VB :  You failed in that

JO’C:   What happened to-day represents the right approach but it is inadequate to meet this

VB:   But, but—

JO’C:    You must let me say what I came here to say. We have all sorts of differences here on the left.  Contrary to what people say, I am on the left. I aspire to a fundamental redistribution of wealth. But the only way we will achieve it and I think there is a possibility of achieving it if only an outside possibility, but nonetheless worth trying to do— is if we stop gutting each other  and achieve a degree of cohesion on the left

VB: You mean People Before Profit and the Socialist Party—

J O’C:   I’m just talking about people on the left. Let’s stop being divisive for a second and develop a degree of cohesion and a political programme  that addresses the issues not just what we are against but what we are for and addresses the issue of the way in which on foot of a redistribution of wealth we will develop the dynamic economy which will actually create wealth—- And as long as our politics on the left are only about what we are against we will continue to get majorities of the people voting for the centre right parties and we will continue to blame each other for what went wrong.

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