Finnish unions join the European water campaign

10.1.2013

The Finnish public service trade unions have added their voice to the Water is a human right -campaign. Its aim is to collect one million signatures for a European Citizens' Initiative to be put before the European Union. The initiative is a new mechanism designed to ensure a genuinely popular public proposal gets placed on the political agenda of the Union.

The campaign’s goal is to guarantee water and sanitation for Europe as a whole, and seeks to counter liberalisation and privatisation of water services and to advance the right to water as a global human right. The campaign is run and supported by many European organisations with strong trade union participation and backing.

"We want to make it clear to EU decision makers that clean water and public water services shall be a primary goal for the EU, too. The EU has to accept this as another fundamental right of citizens, as the United Nations has already done", says Maija Pihlajamäki, president of the Federation of Public and Private Sector Employees Jyty.

The public sector trade unions endorse the initiative and underline the importance of pure water and public water services for citizens along with the availability, safety and security of these services.

"Water is fundamental to life and should not be treated as a commodity", says Jarkko Eloranta, president of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors JHL. He also stresses the need for water utility services to be under the democratic control of our societies, because high quality construction and maintenance of these utilities demand a lot of resources, know-how and effective control.

So far water services in Finland have been organised well and responsibly. However, it is evident that some of the global water business companies are now trawling the markets in Finland, too, and might in the near future advance bids on local water services. Eloranta appeals to the municipal decision makers not to repeat the mistakes they made in the 1990's when they sold off the energy companies.

The goal is to collect 70,000 signatures for the initiative in Finland before the first of November 2013. The Finnish Public Services Unions' EU Working Party FIPSU hopes that both unions and citizens will see the importance of the campaign and sign the initiative.

The Finnish web page of the campaign:
vesionperusoikeus.fi

The main web page of the campaign:
www.right2water.eu

Heikki Jokinen