A grassroots concert about water impacts politics in Greece

On the 2nd of April, a concert for the protection of the public ownership of water, held on the main square of Thessaloniki, Greece, had a major impact on Greek society. Musicians known for their political speech and activity, not conforming with a rather widespread apolitical view of a great part of the mass media, accepted the invitation of the worker’s syndicate of EYATH (the public water company of Thessaloniki) which organized the concert, and contributed – along with many volunteers workers of the company, collectivities and students – to one of the most massive music gatherings in the history of the city, with a clear and straightforward message;

Defend Water
Public goods above their profits.

There is a rather turbulent background preceding the concert. The conservative government of New Democracy has twice attempted to pass legislation leading to the privatization of the water, the second of which was a trick to overpass a clear command by the Council of the State that water should stay under public control. Roughly a quarter of EYATH’s shares are an asset of the Hellenic Fund (Superfund), an institution which, among other assets, possesses estates and shares conceded to it as a result of the memorandums Greek governments have signed during the period of economic and debt crisis. The Council of State has explicitly ordered that the aforementioned shares return under public control, reassuring, thus, the public ownership of water.


Update info sheet on Italy by the Italian Water Forum

Italian Water Forum (Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua) denounces that, at the eve of general elections, Italian Draghi Cabinet changed unilaterally, in favour of privatization of public services, the Competition Bill agreed with the Parliament.

Italian Water Forum learned from the press that last September 16, one week before general elections, Italian Draghi Cabinet approved a decree that, without any previous confrontation, modifies unilaterally in favour of privatization of public services the Competition Bill previously agreed with the Parliament. It must be pointed out that, at the eve of the elections, current Parliament has no time to discuss and vote this decree and in the meantime the Government is under ordinary administration, so it cannot legislate by changing legislative provisions already agreed with the same Parliament.

Contents of the decree as reported by the press are even more serious. If confirmed, they violate what previously agreed and precisely: it is reintroduced the obligation for an operator of network services, whose government is public, to justify its failure to open to the private market; public operators under public law, i.e. ABC of Naples, are excluded from the management of network services. Possible illegal nature of such provisions are in course of evaluation.

It will be responsibility of the future Government and Parliament to reject this decree that overturns the parliamentary mandate and aims to submit public services to the governance of the big private subjects. As Italian Water Forum we will continue our struggles and initiatives against privatization of local public services and for the respect of the vote expressed in the referendum of 2011.

Rome, 23 September 2022

Forum Italiano dei Movimenti per l’Acqua

STAL welcomes Setúbal municipality decision to recover water and sanitation management

STAL warmly welcomes the approval by the Municipality of Setúbal, on the 24th of November, of recovering the municipal public management of water and sanitation, thus putting an end to the concession to private companies approved in 1997 by the socialist party, a decision marked by several suspicions, in which EPAL – the major water public company was even prohibited to compete by the then Minister of Environment Elisa Ferreira, in a clear favoring of private interests.

The decision now proposed by the communist party and the greens coalition - CDU, corresponding to an electoral commitment made in the last local elections by this political force, was approved with the votes in favor of the socialists, with the abstention of the social-democrats, and, according to the note issued by the municipality, “the municipal public management carried out by municipal services or municipalised services is the one that best adapts to the reality” and which, from a financial point of view, "should represent a superior added value" for the Municipality of Setúbal "and better tariff conditions for the users”.

For STAL, this is a great victory for the populations and workers, and is another example - after Mafra, Paredes and Santo Tirso, who rescued the concessions - which belies the proclaimed superiority of private management and confirms that these sections should not leaving the public sphere.

In this regard, the union recalls that in Fafe, where Indáqua charges one of the most expensive waters in the country, the contract ends at the end of 2021, as well as in Trancoso, another locality, so it reaffirms the demand that these municipalities put an end to privatization.

For this very reason, STAL will continue to fight for a law that prevents the privatization, in whatever form, of these essential services and demands the remunicipalization of privatized services, namely abusive contracts already declared illegal by the Court of Auditors.

Improve the public service and defend workers' rights

STAL hopes that the transition period that will elapse until the creation and installation of the municipal services takes place in a normal way, expressing, from now on, all availability to accompany and participate in this process, being unequivocal that the City Council will have to admit all workers, whose rights must be fully safeguarded.

As the Union has always stated, the privatization of water is a politically illegitimate, socially unfair and economically wrong decision, which seriously harms the interests of the municipality, populations and workers, for which the return of water to municipal public management, naturally constituting reason of satisfaction for those who, like us, consider that water is a right and not a business, it can and should be, above all, an opportunity to develop a management committed to the values of public service, to the defense of workers' rights and populations and the environment.

For our part, we are available and we will do everything to make it so.

STAL - Sindicato Nacional dos Trabalhadores da Administração Local e Regional, Empresas Públicas, Concessionárias e Afins

Appeal to the court by the Comitato Umbro Acqua Pubblica against Umbra Acque spa

25 June 2022

Popular action at the court of Perugia by the Comitato Umbro Acqua Pubblica
With private management, the accounts are not balanced for the citizen.

It has been proven for a long time that profits and public services are incompatible and that private management maximises profits and leaves the debts and dysfunctions to the public.

This is the case of the water service which, after almost 20 years of private management, has generated profits and consolidated the manager's assets thanks to public funding and the application of very high tariffs.

While citizens save on water consumption because they are sensitive to the preservation of the resource, as well as to the bill, politicians, on the one hand, are alarmed by the water crisis (drought and water rationing) and, on the other hand, endorse waste and over-consumption, as for example, the loss of 50% of the water introduced in the distribution network. This high rate of loss is caused by the failure of operators to make the planned investments to renew the network and repair leaks.

The core of the problem is that the private management of essential public services (health, transport, schools, etc.), in our case the water service, can only lead to high management costs, waste of resources, degradation of infrastructure, job insecurity and loss of professional skills.

All this was highlighted by the Comitato Umbro Acqua Pubblica, which sued Umbra Acque spa, the water service manager of 38 Umbrian municipalities, in the court of Perugia, with a popular action, due to the inertia of the assembly of municipalities that was supposed to control the activity of the manager. Instead of demanding that Umbra Acque spa respect the management contract, applying the penalties provided for if necessary, the assembly of municipalities continued for all these years to subscribe to everything that came from the manager without carrying out any control.


From Naples a clear message: Stop privatizations, public water “without any ifs or Ltds”

The Assembly of the Water Movements, met in Naples on 20th November 2021 following the national demonstration held in the morning, feels committed to oppose privatization processes of the integrated water service launched in the present phase, to affirm water as common good and to re-publicize water services.

To this purpose the Assembly deems necessary:

  • To reaffirm the great value of the experience carried out by Azienda Speciale ABC Napoli (ABC Naples Special Company), bulwark of democracy and of implementation of the will expressed in the referendum. To that effect, the Assembly requests mayor of Naples to make a clear terse statement in defence of and in securing ABC Naples Special Company as a public law body, by preventing in the meantime any attempt to change its juridical nature and to consequently privatize it.
  • To prevent PNRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) from constituting a further factor of penalization the South of Italy and an attempt to make it land of conquest for the Multi-services companies in the management of water services and local public services. To that effect, the Assembly asks Minister of the Ecological Transition to withdraw the circulaire of 12th May 2021 that prevents a plurality of operators of water services from having access to the PNRR funds. This disposition, having, by its very nature, only effects inside the Ministry, is illegitimate, without legal basis and in contrast with European principles whose scope is the elimination of social and territorial inequalities.
  • To counter the plan of privatization of the integrated water service and of local public services delineated in the DDL concorrenza (Competition Bill). And even more, we deem necessary to remove Art. 6 from the above mentioned bill, because this article is not conforming to the referendum obligation, as it excludes public governance and favours de facto private monopolists.