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Water campaign wound up


In October 2006 the South East Regional TUC – conscious of chronic water shortages, failing infrastructure problems especially in London, rationing and supply problems – called for a regional and national campaign to seek the public ownership of water at the earliest possibility with a specific demand that a national grid for water supply be introduced.

Fifteen months on the campaign has been effectively wound up, with a monitoring rather than campaigning exercise now being undertaken.

What has brought this about? Increased rainfall and flooding created short term amnesia and the problem was seen to have gone away as though by magic! Similarly, intense restructuring within the water industry has reduced the industry to almost a monopoly by a tiny number of major multi-national players. Thames Water, for example, is now owned by an Australian bank.

There is a view that nothing can be done in the face of this centralisation of private economic power. At the same time the industry regulator's imposition of multi-million pound penalties on the water companies for failed service has effectively been shrugged off as the companies have made even greater profits which have dwarfed the fines.

Regulation and consumer interests are seen to have failed in that they were only a cosmetic sop intended to disguise the real brutal nature of dealing with a profit crazed and money-driven industry. There is a paralysis in thinking across the trade unions and their lawyers in the face of European Union legislation. A utility can remain in public ownership, but once privatised, EU law prevents it from ever being taken back into public ownership.

The paralysis through the trade unions and their lawyers over this issue reflects the same mindset politicians have about the European Union. Just because they say you can never do something doesn't mean that you cannot. Because they say we cannot do it should be the spur to assert ourselves and do it – an independent sovereign nation taking control of its water resources, why not? And to do something – renationalise water – may well be an example of one of the myriad actions which will bring the European Union tumbling down.

It is unbelievable that anyone actually believes the hogwash that you can legislate for issues in the future. Once upon a time Parliament here was very clear that it could not dictate and prescribe to unborn generations. Only the European Union thinks it can dictate the future! This fatalism of thinking is what leads to people sleepwalking into dictatorship.