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Trade unions rally against Greek water privatisation

TRADE unions from Greece and across Europe threw their weight behind a campaign against water privatisation in Thessaloniki today.

A non-binding referendum is due on the future of the Thessaloniki Water Company on Sunday.

International trade union activists demonstrated yesterday against the sell-off outside the Paris offices of Suez Environment, the French multinational that is bidding to take over the company.

The Greek government wants to sell the water and sanitation firm to reduce state debt. 

Privatisation of public companies is part of the agreement between the Greek government and its international creditors.

But a broad coalition of groups, including trade unions and the Greek Orthodox Church, is opposed.

It has forced the local referendum in which people will be asked to vote Yes to maintain the public company, although it would not be binding unless ratified by the president or parliament.

The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) is supporting an international team of monitors from Austria, Bulgaria, France, Gemany, Italy, Netherlands and Sweden.

EPSU spokesman Jan Willem Goudriaan said: “We want Suez Environment to respect the referendum’s results.

“To do differently would taint its image and show that its corporate social responsibility policies are window dressing.”

Mr Goudriaan called into question the legality of the process, saying: “If the referendum is positive, the Greek government should stop the privatisation process.

With only one bidder left, the Greek people would be robbed of their company.”

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