On that Sinn Fein Water Rates policy…

This is odd. Mitchel McLaughlin told Slugger on Wednesday night that rather than encourage people not to pay their water bills, that the Unions should instead tell their members not to process the bills in the first place. If it was intended to deliniate the party’s line from that of the Socialist and Workers Parties support for the non payment campaign (as some have suggested to Slugger), the unions are now raging it nevertheless seems to have caused several difficult moments for his party colleagues, Gerry Adams on Hearts and Minds, and John O’Dowd on today’s Seven Days who was pursued on the issue by one texter at the end. O’Dowd protested that he did know of the interview. Well, you can find it here John.

  • woman

    [i]This is odd. Mitchel McLaughlin told Slugger on Wednesday night that rather than encourage people not to pay their water bills, that the Unions should instead tell their members not to process the bills in the first place. If it was intended to deliniate the party’s line from that of the Socialist and Workers Parties support for the non payment campaign (as some have suggested to Slugger), [b]the unions are now raging[/b][/i]

    The oddest thing about it is that the unions are raging. They’re happy to call on Joe and Josie Public to go on a rates strike, but they don’t want to call their own members to a work to rule? Great unions y’all have in the sticks there. Or is there some piece of the puzzle I’m missing here?

  • brendan,belfast

    Not really woman. mitchell’s just thick and that is all there is to this story. Even provo leaders want him to lose on Wednesday to see the back of him.

  • Observer

    The unions are opposed to water charges. A politician asks them to put their money where their mouth is.
    They are offended and outraged. So are sections of the media.
    Mitchell’s mistake was to take the Trade Union position at face value.

  • Observer

    Where does Sinn Fein stand on the general Rates issues?

  • Red Mist

    Mitchell made a very fundamental error.

    He has failed to grasp that the unions are doing what they can do – appeal to people not to pay the charges. They cannot order or request their members not to deliver the bills for instance as it is not a trade dispute. They would have to be balloted and it would inevitably get hammered and thus any action would be highly illegal.

    Is Mitchell asking people to break the law?

    It is rich for Mitchell to ask this as he is unwilling to take any action himself. So it is Mitchell who is asking Joe Public not todeliver the bills whilst he is unprepared to take the risk of not paying.

    The unions for that matter are taking the action they recommend. They are asking the public not to pay. In case it has escaped the informed posters above, they and their members are also Joe Public and thus they are recommending non-payment to their people also.

    Why doesn’t Mitchell recommend non-payment to his voters? Raymond McCartney SF has been scathing about the non-payment campaign. Saying it will heap further misery upon the poor. He has missed the point entirely. The double tax is THE financial misery. Then Braveheart Mitchell asks postal workers to take the entire burden of the protest upon their shoulders and risk being dismissed and we are back to McCartney’s warnings of financial misery. What about the financial misery that would cause to the workers?

    A massive own goal in setting the workers up as the fall guy. It has and will continue to back fire on this idiot. The sooner he gets chinned in South Antrim the better. Fingers crossed.

  • woman

    [i]They would have to be balloted and it would inevitably get hammered and thus any action would be highly illegal.[/i]

    Fair enough, but what happens to those who don’t pay their bills?

    It’s a little strange to me that the union(s) is calling on the public to take action, action that the union appears to want to lead from the rear rather than the front.

  • vexed

    In reply to those parties that are quoting the last rent and rates strike as having had catastrophic consequences on the participants etc… it should be noted that it failed because it was almost exclusively one sided
    i.e. ONLY THE GREEN TURKEYS WERE INVOLVED! now both GREEN AND BLUE TURKEYS ARE PREPARED TO JOIN IN THE “WE WONT PAY CAMPAIGN” AND THAT IS WHY I THINK IT WILL SUCCEED!

    BETTER STILL I THINK THAT ALL OF THE PARTIES ARE QUIETLY AGAINST FATTENING THE FINANCIAL COFFERS OF THE “GO-CO” GOLDEN GOOSE, READY FOR SOME “OFF THE SHELF” PRIVATE COMPANY TO MAKE THE KILLING!

  • Red Mist

    Woman,

    The Unions will take the same action as they are asking the people to take…they won’t be paying their double water tax….wakey wakey…I cannot for the life of me see what is difficult to understand about their position.

    They cannot command their members nor the public they are just outlining their position. If they don’t pay their bills they will be in the same position as everyone else.

    Its up to the public to defeat this not the unions.

  • Crataegus

    Look SF, DUP, UUP and the SDLP all agreed to the introduction of the water rates in the last Executive. If you don’t agree with water rates then don’t vote for these parties. It is that simple.

  • woman

    Red Mist

    [i]The Unions will take the same action as they are asking the people to take…they won’t be paying their double water tax….wakey wakey…I cannot for the life of me see what is difficult to understand about their position.[/i]

    Because it’s nothing, it costs them nothing. If a union calls for action, then it should lead the action, not be at the back shouting out instructions to members and non-members alike. It’s a freebie, it’s posturing … wakey wakey, yourself.

  • Red Mist

    Woman,

    But it clearly is something. They are advising members not to pay, they are advising the public not to pay and they themselves have taken a pledge not to pay.

    In case you haven’t realised, it is on record as lending its weight to the non-payment campaign. They did not start the non-payment campaign. Furthermore, their position is as a result of motions passed by its membership demanding the Unions support the non-payment campaign. This was not something brought about through the posturing of its leadership. It was demanded by its membership. What were they to do? Should they have ignored these motions on the basis that they cannot deliver a general strike?

    Or I notice you recommended ‘work to rule’. You obviously have little understanding of what this entails. It can be employed in the fight against extra duties, or non-core duties, but not in this case as delivering the bills for example would be core duties. They cannot be separated from their other duties. Thus work to rule is totally inappropriate.

    So to round off, you say that ‘it costs them nothing’ but it will cost them something. It will cost them the same as everyone else. It will lead to action because they and many people in the general public will not pay, myself included.

    I really cannot understand your opposition or hostility to their position nor can I understand your description of it as a ‘freebie’. This is clearly not in line with the facts.

    If you want to pay then go right ahead there is absolutely no one ‘shouting out instructions’ to you. But do not try and run down the efforts of others in their attempts to build a mass non-payment movement.

    I apologise for the wakey wakey earlier…I think it would be better if you went back to sleep.

  • woman

    Red Mist,

    As I said at the beginning there may be some part of the story I’ve missed. If, as you say, the union was asked to lend weight to a campaign already underway, and called on its own members to support that campaign and not pay their bills as they become due, fair enough. However, it seems to be ill-thought out on their part. Will the members get a dues rebate to help them pay the additional costs incurred by not paying their bills? Does the union have a hardship fund to assist members with legal fees when they’re taken to court for non-payment? If all these matters have been thought out ahead, and the union leadership have in place provisions to cover their members’ asses as well as their own, credit where credit is due then.

    As for your comments on work-to-rule and me going back to sleep, I’ll take them for what they’re worth, i.e., most likely coming from a person who has never actually run a work to rule campaign, never mind a strike.

  • Red Mist

    Woman,

    To be honest I think you have pretty well castigated the unions without any knowledge of what is happening. Bit late to be holdng your hands up now I think.

    As I said the Unions have supported the non-payment campaign at the behest of their memberships motions. They have outlined their position but are not and cannot order people not to pay. It is a personal decision. However, at the outset they had members trained up to represent people in small claims court but the British Government obviously got jittery and changed the legislation so that people will go before a magistrates court.

    The cost of defending your action is minimal. It is not a criminal offence and thus the total cost to the protester if they follow it all the way through will be approximately £60. Much less than the bills.

    At the end you made some remarks about my take on the work to rule and that it most likely comes from someone who has never run a work to rule campaign. I have never run one but I have been on one. But maybe given your depth of experience on the subject you could enlighten us as to how this can be done and on what grounds it can be initiated in this case? I look forward to it.

  • woman

    Work to rule? Easy. Refuse overtime associated with processing bills. Refuse overtime associated with delivering bills. Is there a price to pay for that? Maybe, depends on your contract language. Create a defence fund for those facing disciplinary action for refusing overtime, if the contract doesn’t allow overtime on a voluntary basis only (and if it doesn’t, except in emergency situations, your union sucks big time anyway). And that’s only mickey mouse stuff. The union reps on the ground in any workplace associated with billing should be able to figure out creative ways to delay or impede the processing and delivery of bills. Can’t legally strike? Easy, set up ‘information pickets’ before shifts and after, and during lunchtime. Can’t call a one day strike? Easy. Have an Action Day, with a rally. The union isn’t telling the members to strike, they can take the day off on leave, or sick, or whatever they feel appropriate for them. See how easy it is? That’s why the union call to not pay the bills is a freebie, it’s feeble and weak. They need to put their money where their mouth is. Unless posturing is their whole intent.

  • woman

    [i]I look forward to it.[/i]

    Am I to interpret your silence as an indication that you were being economical with the truth when you made that statement, Red Mist?

  • woman

    Red Mist,

    Now that your elections are over, bumping this up to the top again for you, in case you actually want to talk about what the unions can and cannot realistically do about the water bills.