A year after taking back public control of water and wastewater operations and maintenance in the City of Hamilton, management reported improved performance and cost effectiveness, thanks to dedicated public workers. CUPE 5167 represents workers at the water and wastewater department and the city’s inside and outside workers.
“Our members should be proud of our achievements since taking over public operation of Hamilton water and wastewater facilities,” said Gus Oliveira, president of CUPE 5167. “Under private contractors in the previous 10 years, Hamilton residents experienced raw sewage spills, malfunctioning equipment and musical chairs of private operators of our water systems.”
In a report by the City of Hamilton public works department, general manager Scott Stewart states that public workers achieved “higher level of performance at the treatment facilities while at the same time coming in approximately $1.2 million below the approved budget”. In addition, the report also notes that because city staff achieved improved performance in 2005, the City saved $195,000 in incentive payments that would have been paid to private contractors, had private companies achieved similar performance criteria.
“Not only did public workers deliver almost $1.4 million in savings for the city, our members also achieved better treatment performance compared to previous years,” said Oliveira. “Public workers deliver results and are accountable to the public, not to profit seeking companies.”
Hamilton ended private contracting out of water and wastewater operations in 2004, after private companies wanted a “risk-free profit scheme on the backs of the taxpayers,” recalled Oliveira. Local 5167 worked with Hamilton Water Watch to lobby Hamilton Council and raise public awareness of the problems with contracting out of water operations, which resulted in bringing water operations back in-house.