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Dublin: 14 °C Sunday 26 May, 2019

SIPTU still won't say if they'll join water charge protests

It depends on what emerges from talks with other unions, they say.

TWO DAYS AFTER the government’s much-vaunted announcement on a new water charges regime, SIPTU has spoken.

The union’s National Executive Council today rejected the new plan, but SIPTU representatives still won’t say whether or not they’ll call on their 200,000 members to join the Right2Water movement in their protests.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, SIPTU President Jack O’Connor was asked if he’d be marching outside the Dáil on 10 December.

He didn’t say either way, but added that the decision would be based on “what emerges from discussions” with various other trade unions within the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU).

A spokesperson for the union told those talks should start within days, and emphasised the need to “look at areas where there is agreement” between SIPTU and the Right2Water campaign, which is led in part by the Mandate and UNITE trade unions.

SIPTU President Jack O'Connor Source: PA Archive/Press Association Images


The spokesperson pointed to the call for a referendum to prevent the privatisation of our water supply as one area of “common ground”, but refused to say whether that would be enough to prompt SIPTU to march on 10 December.

In its earlier statement, SIPTU criticised the “regressive” character of the new scheme outlined by Environment Minister Alan Kelly in the Dáil on Wednesday, which caps charges at €60 and €160 for single and multiple households respectively.

Speaking on the News at One, O’Connor explained:

Our policy was that people would get the water that they needed at no cost, and there would be a penalty on waste…
What the government is doing is the opposite…You pay for the water you need, but you can waste as much as you like and you don’t pay anything for it.

The union is also calling for Irish Water to be “re-designated as a democratically controlled water authority or a non-commercial semi-state company…”

Read: Irish Water workers could go on strike if they don’t get their bonuses back>

SIPTU won’t be protesting against water charges, but they want them deferred>

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Dan MacGuill

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