Support public water services as a human right for all on World Water Day

Date: Fri 22 March 2013

UNISON today marked World Water Day with a call for water to be a human right and not for sale.

The public services union used today, March 22, to urge support for a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) that states water and sanitation are essential public services for all.

UNISON is encouraging people in Scotland to sign the water ECI’s online petition demanding that the European Commission stops plans to liberalise water services.

Andy Nisbet, secretary of UNISON’s Scottish Water branch, said:
“In Scotland we enjoy the benefits of Scottish Water being publicly owned, a policy which has very, very strong public support.

“Today on World Water Day I encourage everyone who believes water is a human right to sign the petition at

“We are calling on the European Commission to legislate to implement the human right to water and sanitation as recognised by the United Nations, and promoting the provision of water and sanitation as essential public services for all citizens.”

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis is a member of the organising committee of the ECI, which will be formally launched on 1st April.

Andy added: “The ECI is a new form of European action created by the Lisbon treaty. It provides an opportunity to get the European Commission to listen to citizen views rather than just lobbyists in Brussels.

“Our petition has been the first to gather more than the required one million signatures, to submit the proposals as draft laws. This is a phenomenal achievement.

“But we want to have as many names as possible to deliver the message that water should not be privatised. Adding your name to this petition really can make a difference and you will be part of the historic first ECI to be launched.”


For information please contact:

Dave Watson, Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, 07958 122 409
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07876 566 978
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877000

Notes to editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland. As the largest trade union in the Scottish water industry, UNISON members are both providers and users of water in Scotland.

2. UNISON and the other UK public service unions are members of one of the ECI’s supporting organisations – the European Federation of Public Services Unions, and the whole union movement supports it through ETUC.

3. The petition is at

4. The objectives are:

“ The EU legislation should require governments to ensure and to provide all citizens with sufficient and clean drinking water and sanitation.
We urge that:
1. The EU institutions and Member States be obliged to ensure that all inhabitants enjoy the right to water and sanitation.
2. Water supply and management of water resources not be subject to ‘internal market rules’ and that water services are excluded from liberalisation.
3. The EU increases its efforts to achieve universal access to water and sanitation.”
5. The UN World Water Day website is