Portuguese union fights privatisation of water
(13 July 2011) Our colleagues from STAL in Portugal have sent out a declaration to stop privatisation of water, in particular the water company Aguas do Portugal (AdP); in Portugal the largest water company servicing 8 million people and employing over 5000 workers.
In their declaration they criticize government, saying the privatisation policy will not only lead to loss of revenue for the public authorities, which now control AdP, but it will also lead to loss of public control over this essential service and destruct the well-functioning company. Last year AdP had a profit of nearly 80 million euros of which 27 million went to local and regional governments, so directly back to the public. Evidence shows that privatisation and profit oriented private companies will increase pressure on workers and working conditions and seek to reduce their wages (cut costs). At the same time private enterprises make people depend on their ability to pay for this service, reducing their ‘human right to water’ to something only for those who can pay for it, thus increasing inequality among the population. But as governments remain responsible for providing water services, it means that only the profits will transfer to private hands, whereas obligations such as investments in the infrastructure and support for the low incomes still have to come from government.
STAL says privatisation of water services is not only a loss for the population and public authorities, but also a destruction of local economies and local companies that are related water for example in construction of water works and maintenance of infrastructure and services. Privatisation will undoubtedly mean that AdP will come in hands of a large Multinational that will take control over all aspects of the service to make sure the profit rate will go up, this way taking money out of Portugal.
For STAL water services (water supply and sanitation) are public services that have to remain under public control and management. To the people water is an essential service that should not be used to take profit from.
STAL will defend the right to water and public control over water. It will work with other organisations to stop privatisation of water and promote a public and socially just management of water. “ Water belongs to all of us, not to the hands of just a few private companies”.