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Trade unionists descend on Gove to protest water privatisation

TRADE unionists protested outside the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) today against the “failed experiment” of water privatisation, demanding the service be renationalised.

Members of the GMB union protested outside Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s offices ahead of the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s privatisation of British water supplies on July 6 1989.

The nine largest water companies in the country made a record sum of over £6.8 billion since 2014, GMB researchers revealed this week.

The CEOs of these companies have gained £68 million in salaries, bonuses and other benefits over the same period.

GMB national officer Stuart Fegan said: “The privatisation of England’s water industry is a Thatcherite experiment that has utterly failed our country.

“Thirty years on, it’s high time to take back the tap and put our water industry back in public hands.

“Bills are up 40 per cent above inflation, and billions of litres of water is lost in leaks as families face hose pipe bans and all the while shareholders are trousering billions in profit.

“This is a natural monopoly — the public, workers and our water stocks will be better off if we take back control of our water industry from the profiteers.”

The union also drew attention to Southern Water’s £126m fine last week for dumping untreated effluent into natural waters, as well as misrepresenting itself over the incident and “deliberately misreporting” data.

GMB young members committee executive member Lara McNeill said: “It’s just about clear to everyone now that the privatisation of our water supply is an unmitigated disaster and a rip-off.

“Shareholders have pocketed extraordinary sums of money out of consumer prices rising, in some cases by over 40 per cent above inflationary rates.

“All the while, ordinary people suffer the rising cost of living and stagnating wages.

“How is this acceptable? Water is something that should be a human right, not a commodity that the greedy few can take to make extreme profits for themselves.

“We need to bring it back into the hands of water workers and the consumers of this country.”

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