CUPE members have been fighting hard in Canada to keep our water systems publicly owned and operated. Sensing the water cartel waiting offshore, we united our struggles in a targeted national campaign in 1997. We are part of a global labour movement working at all levels to defend, improve and extend public water systems.
We know public drinking and wastewater systems are the only way to ensure clean, safe and affordable water accessible to all. Most of our water systems remain firmly in public hands. However our experiences with privatization, including so-called public private partnerships, provide clear evidence that a greater role for the private sector is not the path to expanding much-needed water systems in developing countries.
We refuse to let the multinationals bank on desperation and profit from growing water needs. We are committed to developing and promoting public solutions that will meet people’s water needs at home in Canada and around the world.
Through international solidarity, we pledge to share experiences and expertise that will improve and extend public water systems. We believe this type of international support – not the forced privatization advocated by international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund – is key to building accessible, accountable and sustainable water systems.
All peoples have the right to accountable water systems that are publicly owned and controlled at the community level, systems that include meaningful worker input. All countries must have the right to manage their own resources in the interests of their peoples and the well-being of the planet.
CUPE opposes international trade agreements such as the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). These agreements, and the forces behind them, seek to turn water and water services into commodities to be bought and sold across borders, with devastating consequences.
We have serious environmental concerns about the privatization and commodification of water. Bulk water exports can cause irreversible harm to water sources, and do nothing to solve the root causes of water shortages. These exports are the international trade trigger that hand corporations the tools to force their way into communities and countries, robbing them of vital resources. Corporations are concerned about profit, not conservation or stewardship of natural resources. We must keep them away from water services for the sake of the world’s environment.
CUPE calls for a global body that will put the needs of people – not corporations – first in meeting the world’s water needs. We believe that workers, non-governmental organizations, citizens and governments all have crucial roles to play in this urgent process. Profits have no place at the table.
Canadian Union of Public Employees - www.cupe.ca
Kyoto, Japan - March, 2003