We Won’t Pay Campaign condemns paramilitary intimidation of workers

unnamed6The anti-water charges We Won’t Pay Campaign condemns in the strongest possible terms the paramilitary intimidation and threats to water service workers in Belfast. Such outrageous attacks on workers are completely unacceptable and we call on those responsible to remove all threats of violence against water service workers.

The return of paramilitary threats against workers is a dangerous development which needs to be opposed by the trade union movement. If necessary, protest action demanding a lifting of threats should be called.

The We Won’t Pay Campaign has succeeded over many years of mass campaigning to force the political parties in the Assembly Executive to defer domestic water charges for seven years, saving households thousands of pounds in additional charges.

This was done by building support for mass non-payment of water charges in communities right across Northern Ireland, collecting over 100,000 non-payment pledges involving thousands of ordinary people. We united all working class communities against water charges. The support for our campaign has not ebbed despite constant disingenuous attempts by politicians and the media to link the lack of additional water charges with cuts to public services. We have stated that attempts to install domestic water meters can be resisted effectively only by determined mass opposition of ordinary people.

The We Won’t Pay Campaign has questioned why boundary boxes which are designed to house meters are being installed in some locations. That is a question the Assembly parties have yet to answer.

We call on all the political parties seeking election in the coming two years to publicly state their commitment to not just defer water charges but to finally scrap water charges altogether. Our campaign will continue until water charges are scrapped. We will not be divided by the criminal actions of paramilitaries who only offer sectarian division of our movement.

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In the quest for truth, however, we believe it is necessary to look to the forces which in the course of the Troubles can genuinely lay claim to standing against sectarian division and violence - that is the labour and trade union movement, particularly its rank-and-file activists. It is this force today, alongside a new generation of young people who want to fight for equality, that can provide the basis for a different future. Part of their task will be to bring to light the reality of the Troubles and seek to provide justice for its victims.