Key points of the proposal for acquisition of E.Y.A.TH. by its consumers.
The “Iniciative 136” was created by collectives, organizations and individuals who live in Thessaloniki and is addressed to all citizens. It has taken the initiative to coordinate the creation of a legal entity of social character, which will participate in public tender for the acquisition of 40% plus the management of E.Y.A.TH (initials for Thessaloniki’s Water and Sewerage Company), claiming control of the water of the city for its own citizens / consumers, rather than a multinational company.
The E.U. Water Framework Directive stipulates that water is not a commercial product like any other, but should be considered humanity’s patrimony. The directive urges countries to provide water at a reasonable price for those in need and encourages all citizens to participate in the protection and management of water.
After decades of privatization of water, cities in Europe and around the world abandon private management of water resources: Brussels, Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, Paris, Grenoble, Brest, Buenos Aires, Atlanta, Johannesburg, Cochabamba, etc.
Why abandon privatization?
While water is a scarce but vital commodity requiring judicious management, its privatization has only ever served the multinational corporations’ drive for profit rather than the interest of the general public. In order to gain ownership of water management companies, multinationals promise better quality services, investment and lower tariffs. However the experiences of cities that have privatized their water services tell us that:
- Privatization leads to constant and arbitrary increases in tariffs. In some cases there has been a sevenfold increase in prices within a few years.
- Water loss due to lack of maintenance in private networks is huge, ranging from 17 to 27%. In public networks it is 3 to 12%.
- Private companies, by over-pumping and brutal exploitation, destroy water sources and aquifers.
Moreover, 200 billion bottles of bottled water are sold each year worldwide. The multinationals have managed to build a €60 billion market in the last 20 years through a systematic and very effective defamation of public water supply systems. At the same time, they paved the way for the privatization of the public water systems in order to get profit from the remaining piece of the market not covered by bottled water.
Contrary to the corporation’s claims, when water remains public, money is saved by returning profits to citizens through decrease in tariffs or investments to improve water quality.
How can people get the management of water in their hands
The organizational form for claiming E.Y.A.TH. S.A. is based around two core structures:
a. Cooperatives based on each Municipality and Municipal Community of Thessaloniki.
b. Cooperatives organized within an S.A. (Public Limited Company) named Social E.Y.A.TH. S.A., which will pursue the acquisition of 40% and the management of E.Y.A.TH.
The cooperatives are created according to the Greek law for Urban Cooperatives (N.1667/86). Their aim is the acquisition and not-for-profit management of E.Y.A.TH , the high-quality and low-priced provision of water to households and businesses, the protection of the environment, and the promotion of democratic decision making and social justice.
Members of cooperatives can be any natural or legal persons who can pay 140 € for each share of participation. Individuals who are unable to pay 140 € immediately, become trial members by paying 10 € a month, and have a margin of 14 months for the payment of 140 €, in order to become full members.
The governing bodies of the cooperatives are the General Assembly of all members, the Board of Directors consisting of 11 members and the Supervisory Council consisting of 7 members. The election of members in public office is made through a single electoral list. Electoral formations are excluded.
Cooperatives collect the capital required for the acquisition of EYATH. The money is deposited by members in a special account. In the case the acquisition is not achieved, the money returns to the member's bank account.
Social EYATH S.A. (K.E.Y.A.TH. S.A.) is established by the cooperatives, who are the company’s shareholders. The objectives of the company are identical to those of the cooperatives.
Initial capital will be over €10 million, with successive increases in share capital until the capital required for the acquisition is reached.
Social E.Y.A.TH. S.A. will be administered by the General Assembly, a Board of Directors consisting of 13 members, a Supervisory Council consisting of 9 members and a Social Council. The General Assembly consists of elected representatives of the cooperatives. The number of representatives of each cooperative in the General Assembly is proportional to the percentage of the share capital of the cooperative in the company’s total capital. The CEO of K.E.F.A.TH. S.A. is not a member of the Board, but is chosen by the Board of Directors based on criteria pre-established by the statutes and on procedures laid down by the General Assembly of shareholders.
ALL TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE IT!
It might sound difficult but it is not only feasible but also socially equitable. The most difficult battles can be won whenever "we" is put higher than "I". The entire history of mankind confirms Victor Hugo’s dictum that "Nothing is more powerful than an idea that is ripe”.