SIPTU members rallied outside the Dáil on Thursday, to protest against EU policies which promote the privatisation of water resources.
The rally was part of a EU wide campaign by the European Federation of Public Service Unions, which represents eight million public service workers, focused on highlighting its concern at the liberalisation of EU laws governing the ownership of water resources.
Following the protest workers and SIPTU representatives held a meeting in the Dáil with TDs and Senators from all political parties.
SIPTU Local Authority Chairperson, Matt Henry, said: “With the decision of the Irish Government to establish Irish Water and transfer water assets out of local democratic ownership we have every reason to be concerned. The concern in relation to who owns and controls water is the same across Europe and internationally. Major international companies are lining up to pressurise politicians to open up publicly owned water for private ownership.”
The SIPTU National Water Services Committee, which is organised the rally, represents over 3000 workers in Local Authorities employed in water services. Following the rally SIPTU members will meet with political parties and groups to outline their concerns.
SIPTU Local Authority Sector Organiser, Michael Wall, said: “The move towards privatisation has been going on for some time with increased involvement of Public Private Partnerships, costing massive amounts of public monies. The decision to move away from the municipal control of water is a scandal and the beginning of a move to see water as a commodity rather than a common good.”
SIPTU is also supporting a campaign to raise one million signatures as part of a European Citizens Initiative to bring pressure to bear on the EU Commission to reverse its intention to conclude a ‘Concessions Directive’ which would have the effect of promoting the privatisation of water services across Europe.
Junior Minister Fergus O’Dowd, who is responsible for the Irish Water project, recently told the Seanad that none of the 3,000-plus local authority water services staff would lose their jobs. He said the staff would be able to transfer to Irish Water if they had the necessary skills, while the remainder would stay working in their local authority in another role.
“There will be no involuntary redundancies. Nobody will lose his or her job,” he said. Source: The Independent.