From Socialist Voice, September 2010

Making workers pay again!


Nine hundred customers per day are disconnected by the ESB for failing to pay their electricity bill; 350 Bord Gáis customers per month are disconnected for failing to pay their gas bill. In both circumstances a reconnection fee must be paid. So the news of a “rebalance” of payments must surely be welcomed.
     But, sadly, the “rebalance” is not a response to this crisis but instead a response to recent statements by Intel and Lufthansa Technik, among other companies, that warned that any increases in their bills would not be tolerated, with a Lufthansa spokesperson saying it would be “viewed very poorly by our superiors in Germany.” They both argued that an increase would threaten jobs and the status of corporations in Ireland.
     Immediately the Minister for Energy, Éamonn Ryan, jumped to their tune and requested that the Regulator “rebalance” bills and rates in favour of big business. The result is that households now face a 3 per cent increase in energy charges—all to foot the bill of big business. This, of course, is in addition to the 5 per cent “green levy” being imposed—that is, citizens subsidising the profits of big business involved in so-called “green energy” production.
     In a statement to the Sunday Independent a number of weeks ago the Energy Regulator said: “On foot of a Government decision we have recently proposed to rebalance network charges from domestic customers to large energy users, so that large energy user network charges will be lower from October 1 than they otherwise would be. The Government’s intention here is to assist in reducing costs for large energy users, who often face significant foreign competition, in order to help support jobs in this country.”
     Once again workers are victims of a redistribution of wealth upwards to big business, as the Government bends over backwards to accommodate their desires and wishes.
     In addition to this, banks are due over the coming weeks to increase their variable interest rates on mortgages in an attempt to make residential customers plug the hole created by irresponsible and reckless speculative investments that created the biggest losses in corporate history.
     Leaving aside those unemployed people living in or near constant poverty, the Government’s strategy of making working and poor people pay for the crisis is driving working people into poverty. The Government is creating a mass of working poor barely able, or not able, to pay their basic bills.
     A vicious class war is being waged by the state, representing the interests of monopoly capital. Until those opposed to this realise that it is a class war that we are in we will only be firefighting on small issues and missing the massive bigger picture. Progressive people need to come forward and take on the responsibility of waging class war back at them.
[NL]

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