With all the vallot boxes now counted, over 98% of votes were cast against the privatisation of water and sanitation in the Greek city of Thessaloniki. The referendum was organised by trade unions and citizens campaigning against the privatisation of their city’s water supply. This privatisation is the results of the Troika-imposed austerity programme, which has seen massive cuts and wholesale sell-offs of public services in Greece. A total of 218,002 participated the referendum, a massive turnout that only lends the process further legitimacy.
Despite threats by the Greek government to arrest the organisers, the vote took place without major incident, with long queues forming at many polling stations. Ballot boxes had to placed outside the polling stations, on the order of local mayors, but the sheer number of votes cast point to the strength of feeling against privatisation.
The European Public Services Trade Union (EPSU) whole-heartedly welcomes this result. We have supported the referendum initiative from the very start and have sent a team of international observers to monitor the referendum. EPSU is currently preparing for its congress in Toulouse, where we will celebrate the success of the European Citizens’ Initiative Right2Water with Georges Archontopoulous, President of the Eyath Workers Union and member of SOSte to NERO coalition, which organised the referendum.
This referendum result must be respected by the Greek authorities and by Suez Environment, the French multinational and principal bidder for the Thessalonian water services. Suez has remained very quiet on the referendum, it now must break its self-imposed silence and say that it will not go against the will of the people of Thessaloniki, who have made it resoundingly clear that they want their water to stay public.
Follow @energyunions @right2water and the hashtag #vote4water for live updates on the results.
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