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by Corina Crawley and Blair Redlin (CUPE research staff)

CUPE delegates heard about “public-public partnerships”, NOT “public-private” experiences from around the world Wednesday at a symposium entitled “Public Water for All”. This symposium was the first of a week of water-related events in Mexico City. It was sponsored by members of the Reclaiming Public Water Network, which includes groups such as the Transnational Institute, Council of Canadians, World Development Movement and Corporate Europe Observatory.

Speakers from Brazil, France, Indonesia, Tamil Nadu in India, Stockholm, Amsterdam, El Alto in Bolivia and elsewhere shared the mounting evidence that public ownership and management of municipal water systems works. Successes include reversing privatization in the French city of Varages, renewal of the public system in Tamil Nadu, and trade union-operated public facilities in Buenos Aires, Argentina. A discussion paper entitled “Water for All” was circulated that summarizes many examples of cooperatively-run public partnerships across the world. The paper and speakers notes are available at www.tni.org/.

CUPE delegates Frank Mentes (Saskatchewan) and Rodger Oakley (British Columbia) made fruitful connections with trade union leaders from Peru and Venezuela. Information about their work was exchanged with Luis Isarra Delgado, the Secretario de Defensa from the CGDP trade union central in Peru, as well as with Jose Peraza, representing water workers in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, all four CUPE delegates are helping to plan for a week of events at the International Forum in Defense of Water and at the 4th World Water Forum. Thursday will feature a major “Demonstration in Defense of Water and Life” that will see hundreds of people marching through the streets of Mexico City.