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Date: 21 February 2008

UNISON welcomes rejection of Tory water privatisation plan

UNISON, the largest union representing Scotland's water and sewage workers today welcomed the commitment by both the Scottish Government and the Labour opposition to reject the Tory/Liberal Democrat plans to use mutualisation of Scottish Water as a method of privatising the service.

In particular the union welcomed the commitment in speeches by both Des McNulty MSP, and Bill Kidd MSP rejecting use of mutualisation to privatise the service.

The union also welcomed the proposed review into alternative public sector models as a step towards increasing the democratisation of the publicly owned service, but expressed disbelief at the apparent conversion of the Tories to co-operative ownership.

UNISON's Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said: "In rejecting private ownership of Scotland's water, Scotland's Parliament is both reflecting the views of the Scottish people, and taking the only economically literate view of future ownership. Contrary to the Tory spin, borrowing large amounts of cash from the private sector costs MORE than the current loans from the public purse. Paying that back would cost either the public more, or would mean huge increases in charges to customers. That is why we are particularly glad to hear that both Labour and the SNP are sticking to their commitments, and have rejected Welsh Water - the only model of mutualisation available.

"It is now clear from the Tories' spokesperson, that they are in favour of this privatised model of supply, and their apparent conversion to co-operative principles is just so much spin to disguise the true nature of their intentions.

"UNISON, along with the STUC and the other unions involved in the water industry have been engaged in the debate about the future of Scottish Water, and we all believe that there should be greater democratisation of the service, so we have no problems with reviewing the structure."


Note for Editors: The unions have produced a discussion paper It's Scotland's Water that outlines some ways to allow greater accountability for Scottish Water, and how important the service is for public health and socio-economic development. It is available on the UNISON website at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/water/scotland's_water.pdf

For Further Information Please Contact: Dave Watson (Scottish Organiser) 0845 355 0845 (w) 07958 122 409 (m) Chris Bartter (Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)