Southern Region

GMB Southern welcome Labour commitment to nationalise water industryShare on Twitter Share on Facebook

Posted: 16 May 2017

GMB Southern, the union for water workers, today welcomed the manifesto commitment by the Labour Party to nationalise the water industry. [See notes to editors for Labour Party manifesto commitment.]

Paul Maloney, GMB Southern region secretary, said

“The experience of GMB members employed by Thames Water fully justifies the call to nationalise the water industry.

“When Macquarie owned Thames Water it is estimated that they took out billions and left the company with debts of £10 billion. The water industry, like gas and electricity, is a natural monopoly. No amount of tinkering with competitive market oriented models can work in a natural monopoly and should be in public hands. As things stand, the privatised water industry is a licence to print money at the expense of consumers and other public services.

“If Thames Water was owned by the public, the billions of pounds that Macquarie took out of it could be given to the hard pressed NHS.

“GMB Southern warmly welcome this manifesto commitment.”

Contact: Paul Maloney on 07901343839 or Michelle Gordon on 07866369259

Notes to editors:

1) The Labour Party Manifesto 2017, Page 19:

WIDENING OWNERSHIP OF OUR ECONOMY

Britain is a long-established democracy. But the distribution of ownership of the country’s economy means that decisions about our economy are often made by a narrow elite. More democratic ownership structures would help our economy deliver for the many and lead to a fairer distribution of wealth.

In government, Labour would give more people a stake – and a say – in our economy by doubling the size of the co-operative sector and introducing a “right to own,” making employees the buyer of first refusal when the company they work for is up for sale. We will act to ‘insource’ our public and local council services as preferred providers.

Many basic goods and services have been taken out of democratic control through privatisation. This has often led to higher prices and poorer quality, as prices are raised to pay out dividends. For example, water bills have increased 40 per cent since privatisation, and our private energy providers overcharged customers by £2 billion in 2015. In private hands, Royal Mail has increased stamp and parcel charges, and failed to meet its customer service obligations, while its owners trade shares at significant profit. The Conservative Government’s privatisation of Royal Mail was a historic mistake, selling off another national asset on the cheap.

Across the world, countries are taking public utilities back into public ownership. Labour will learn from these experiences and bring key utilities back into public ownership to deliver lower prices, more accountability and a more sustainable economy. We will:

• Bring private rail companies back into public ownership as their franchises expire.
• Regain control of energy supply networks through the alteration of operator license conditions, and transition to a publicly owned, decentralised energy system.
• Replace our dysfunctional water system with a network of regional publicly-owned water companies.
• Reverse the privatisation of Royal Mail at the earliest opportunity.

Public ownership will benefit consumers, ensuring that their interests are put first and that there is democratic accountability for the service.