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UNISON Scotland calls on Euro candidates to make pledge for World Water Day

Date: Friday 20 March 2009
Embargo: 00.01am Sunday 22 March 2009

Sunday 22 March is World Water Day. Across the world campaign groups will be highlighting the importance of clean water and sanitation. UNISON, Scotland’s water trade union is supporting that campaign by asking European Parliament candidates in the June election to sign up to the following pledge:

  • To recognise access to safe and clean water and sanitation services as a human right.
  • To organise the World Water Forum by the United Nations, rather than a private body like the World Water Council.
  • To promote Public-Public Partnerships rather than public-private partnerships.
  • To support the maintenance of Scottish Water as a public sector utility.
As in Scotland, 90% of the world's water utilities are publicly owned. Research undertaken by the University of Greenwich (PSIRU) and the World Development Movement has confirmed that the private sector hardly invests in water services when they take over and that most of the large multinational companies have withdrawn from this field of operation. With the financial crisis, several of these companies, including Veolia and Suez Environment, have announced that they will reduce their investment plans. Rather then investing, they are cost-cutting. It is therefore not realistic to believe that the private sector will assist in bringing in investment to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

UNISON Scotland is therefore arguing that the EU should approve and support this pledge in its preparation for the World Water Forum, and make funds available to stimulate public-public partnerships.

UNISON Scottish Organiser Dave Watson said:

“Across the world communities are rejecting the privatisation of water services. Yet in Scotland, despite the economic crisis, we still have a few supporters of market madness who champion this cause. Public water operators bring us closer to meeting the needs of billions who are without regular drinking water and sanitation services. Private companies cannot be allowed to profit from this most basic need”


Notes to editors:
UNISON Scotland has written to all the European candidates from all of Scotland's main political parties: Labour, SNP, LibDems, Conservative and Greens asking them to sign up to our four World Water Day pledges.

The PSIRU research can be found at:

Pipe Dreams - the failure of private sector investment in water services

Sewerage works - about public investment in sanitation services

UN report

UNISON Scotland/STUC report ‘It’s Scotland’s Water’

World Water Day is Sunday 22 March 2009
The European Elections will be on Thursday 4 June 2009