On RTE radio’s This Week Programme today the general secretary of ICTU David Begg voiced support for the property tax about to be levied on homeowners. The property tax will be the biggest austerity measure of all and if fully implemented along with water charges will see bills approaching €1,000 in a few short years.
Mr Begg’s declaration comes the day after ICTU lead tens of thousands of workers on protests which were supposed to mount opposition to the austerity imposed to pay off Irish and international bankers and bondholders.
Yesterday’s demonstrations are now exposed as empty posturing by the leaders of Congress and an abuse of those thousands who turned out in the hope that they would finally be the start of a concerted campaign by Congress, including national strike action, against austerity. Congress gave no lead and exposed itself as the Grand Old Duke of York calling working class people out to march up and down the hill but with no intent.
In fact the thrust of ICTU’s manoeuvring is to deflect criticism and pressure away from the government’s, and in particular Labour’s, imposition of savage austerity measures.
Mr Begg’s insinuation that the massive boycott campaign of the household tax reduces to a few political groups not only flies in the face of reality but is an insult to the almost 700,000 single homeowner households who are still boycotting.
It is as well a slap in the face for the big majority of ordinary people who are enraged by the property tax. Next month as letters arrive from the Revenue Commissioners demanding the Property Tax there will be a huge boycott and protest movement to force the government back.
The campaign against home taxes is a massive, democratic organisation of people power against this latest austerity attack. It fights in the spirit of Jim Larkin and the trade unionists of the 1913 lockout whose legacy and memory the leaders of congress insult with their passivity and their unwillingness to even try to fight to defend the interests of ordinary working class people against the disastrous policy of austerity which is destroying the economy.
Congress and the general trade union leadership must change course. Congress claims a membership of 600,000 workers, who, along with their families are the most powerful force in Irish society. We call on Congress to use this power to fight austerity and essential to that should be fighting the Property Tax. If they refuse, workers and the trade union rank and file members, while joining the campaign against the Property Tax, should build up massive pressure inside the trade unions on their leaders to represent their opposition to this unjust tax.”