The 425 outside municipal workers in Sherbrooke, Quebec, have had it with increased privatization and public-private partnerships (P3s) in their city.
At a general meeting in early October, they voted to go public and denounce the municipal administration. “City council has fallen for the siren call of the private sector,” says CUPE 2729 president Rénald Dubé. “They are abandoning their responsibilities, refusing to manage, and transferring important work to companies - all to the detriment of taxpayers, who will end up paying more.”
The workers are opposing the construction of a recreation centre as a P3, as well as the privatization of some building maintenance and alarm response. They are also critical of the planned closure of a city-managed landfill site.
“The cost of landfill will rise from $70 to $100 per ton. In addition, the transportation time will be increased for no good reason. We can’t understand the logic behind these decisions. It’s going to cost more, but they’re going ahead with it anyway,” says an incredulous Dubé.
The union is looking at ways to inform Sherbrooke citizens about the pitfalls of P3s. Studies from Canada and abroad show P3 projects cost more in the long run and pose serious problems of transparency and public control. These same conclusions were reached in a recent study ordered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, whose vice-president is the Mayor of Sherbrooke, Jean Perrault.