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Referendum on 18 May to stop the privatization of Thessaloniki's water

Referendum on 18 May to stop the privatization of Thessaloniki's water

Illustration courtesy of EPSU

15 May 2014

In an unfortunate move, the Greek government is planning to privatize the department of water and sanitation in Thessaloniki, Greece, proposing to sell the public utility to a French corporation called Suez Environment.


The general public and a broad coalition of groups, including the trade unions and the local Greek Orthodox Church, are opposing this measure. Through a press  release by the EPSU (European Federation of Public Service Unions) and the “water is a human right” movement in Europe have stressed that “public services such as the supply of drinking water should be delivered through a public company as the best guarantee to ensure quality, safe and affordable services under democratic control. Water is not a commodity.”   

Due to public outrage, many potential bidders left the race, and Suez Environment is now the lone bidder.  Without adequate competition, it is feared that Suez Environment may try to maximize profit, compromising the quality of service delivery of this life-sustaining gift of God – water.  

The coalition described above has forced a local referendum against this proposal to privatize Thessaloniki’s water supply department.  The referendum will take place on Sunday 18 May.


The Ecumenical Water Network of the World Council of Churches appeals to its member churches and to the people of Thessaloniki: Use the opportunity provided by the referendum and say No to privatizing the water distribution system.


For more details, please read the press release of the EPSU.  Please share this information widely through your networks.