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In the wake of recent electricity blackouts in several countries, the global labour federation Public Services International (PSI) calls for a moratorium on energy privatization and deregulation and the creation of a global commission to explore energy issues.

According to PSI General Secretary Hans Engelberts: The pattern of electricity blackouts is damaging to our societies and symptomatic of major policy failures. After 10-15 years, the evidence is that the promise of competition doesnt exist for the energy sector. In fact, privatization and deregulation are weakening our national energy systems, and contributing to serious crises.

The private sector has proven unable to provide stable energy infrastructure. Energy corporations avoid long-term investments in building new or maintaining existing energy infrastructure and focus instead on trading, mergers and acquisitions. The Eastern distribution network in Britain, for example, has had five owners in only eight years, while ownership of some power stations has changed three or four times. About 40% of UK generation capacity is owned by companies that are bankrupt or close to bankruptcy.

Engelberts also called for a new global commission to review the energy sector developments: A number of global commissions have used stakeholder reviews of policies in specific sectors, most notably the World Commission on Dams and now in the water sector. Such a review process is urgently needed to review energy policies to balance the needs of the workers, customers, governments, banks and corporations.

Energy services are essential to our societies. Governments must assume their responsibilities to invest in and manage the energy infrastructure. The policies of the World Bank and the IMF that impose blanket restrictions on government spending must be curtailed so that governments can invest in long-term public infrastructure needs.

Said Engelberts: PSI will be speaking with all of its affiliated unions in their 150 countries about this issue. We will work with our governments, within our communities, with our employers. The energy sector urgently needs a new direction.

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For additional information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
David Boys, Utilities Officer,
tel: +33 (0) 4 5040 1165
email: David.Boys@world-psi.org