As power union TEEU affiliates to Right2Water, campaign expects large turnout for Saturday’s National Demonstration

Demand for abolition of water charges only first step in campaign for change.

At a press conference held this morning (Tuesday 25 August), the trade unions affiliated to Right2Water welcomed the decision by the power union TEEU to join the campaign.  The TEEU’s Executive has voted to join Unite, Mandate, CWU, CPSU and OPATSI in supporting what Unite official and Right2Water coordinator Brendan Ogle described as “the greatest mobilisation of people power seen since the foundation of the state”.

Speaking at the press conference, Mandate General Secretary John Douglas said:  “Right2Water is about opposition to water charges and the defence of a public good – but it is also about much more.  The hundreds of thousands who have taken to the streets of our towns and cities under the Right2Water banner know that water charges are just the tip of the austerity iceberg.

“Just months before the centenary of 1916, Ireland is one of the most unequal countries in the developed world where hundreds of thousands of us struggle to just get by.  Only yesterday we learnt 300,000 children are in need of the means-tested Back-to-School allowance in order to help meet the costs of our supposedly free education system.  At the same time, a relatively small few flourish in barely imaginable wealth.

“We need to assert our Right2Water – and it’s clear that people also want dramatic change in a number of policy areas.  That is why, in May of this year, the Right2Water Trade Unions issued a draft set of Policy Principles for a Progressive Irish Government and submitted the Principles to a public consultation process.  Almost 150 detailed submissions on a range of areas were received, and the resulting document will be launched at Saturday’s National Demonstration”, John Douglas said.

Unite official and Right2Water coordinator Brendan Ogle said: “Our experience in the Right2Water campaign is that, when we all work together, we can generate change – change that goes far beyond the issue of water charges.  The ‘Banners Over Bridges’ action mounted last week in cities, towns and villages
throughout Ireland  and beyond not only advertised Saturday’s demonstration – far more importantly, it was a clear demonstration of the unity and determination which has characterised the greatest mobilisation of people power seen since the foundation of the state.

“As the largest civil society organisation in the country, the trade union movement has been crucial to this mobilisation.  In July, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions formally adopted an anti-water-charges position, and we are delighted that the TEEU has now voted to affiliate to Right2Water.  On Saturday, tens of thousands of trade unions members from around the country will join with their friends and neighbours to send a simple message:  the time for business as usual is over.  The time for change is
now.  First we need to abolish water charges and ensure public ownership of our water in perpetuity.  And then we need to change the type of society we live in to one based on equality, fairness and solidarity rather than one based on greed and exploitation”, Brendan Ogle said.

Watch our video report of the last huge Right2Water demonstration here!

CPSU activist Dee Quinlan said: “We as a nation have always put our shoulder to the wheel.  However, a time has to come when we stand up and say no, and that time is now.  On August 29th at 2pm in Dublin everyone should take to the streets to show that we will no longer pay for the sins of the property speculators, top-tier bankers, centre right politicians and their pursuit of the policies of
austerity.

“If we accept these charges and recognise Irish Water, we are then in acceptance of the inevitable privatisation of water in this country.  If the end goal of this unfair policy is not privatisation, then why is our government stubbornly refusing to hold a referendum to enshrine ownership of our water services in the hands of the public?”, Dee Quinlan asked.

Community activist Freda Hughes said:  “Over the last seven years we have seen some of the most vulnerable in society bear the brunt of austerity – be they migrant communities, Travellers, lone parents, the sick or the elderly. Our government has imposed cuts that have resulted in over 300,000 people emigrating in the past four years and seen an increase of 55% in those affected by homelessness. Despite the fact that 69% of One Parent Families currently experience social and economic deprivation, last month we saw the One Parent Family Payment cut under the pretext of ‘incentivising’ people to take on more work. There has been no impact assessment, policy review or evidence to support implementation of these measures.

“This is possibly the most gendered cut our government has yet proposed, and it further compounds the pressures placed on some of the most vulnerable in our society. It is vital in this climate of inequality that we assert our Right2Water, oppose the charges and fight for public ownership”, Freda Hughes added.


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Paula Geraghty

Journalist-Photography/video. Real people, real issues. Journalism of hope, about people who fight for a better world. @TradeUnion_TV Usual T&Cs apply

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