Date Released: 21 March 2014
SIPTU activists in the local authorities were told on Thursday (20th March) that the “battle to save water services from privatisation was only beginning” by ICTU Industrial Officer, Liam Berney.
In his presentation to a SIPTU Local Authority Sector seminar entitled “The Price of Private Water”, Berney outlined the process of social dialogue between the Government and unions which led to the establishment of the publicly owned utility Irish Water.
He said: “This is however just the beginning of attempts by some powerful people and interests to see water services privatised,” a move which will be stridently opposed by unions working together in the public interest.
Earlier, the seminar heard from European Public Service Union (EPSU) Water Policy Officer, Jerry van dan Berg, that the “privatisation of water services was “economically stupid.”
“Water is bound by geography and its supply is a natural monopoly. The whole idea of attempting to create a market for water services, which is the policy of the European Commission, is wrong,” he said.
Discussing the success of the EPSU Right2Water campaign which collected 1.9 million signatures across Europe, van dan Berg, said that although it had not changed Commission policy it had played a role in ensuring that local authority water services were not open to privatisation by EU directive in June.
SIPTU has 2500 members in the Local Authority sector in water services and represents staff in Irish Water.