Letter to EYATH bidders after Thessaloniki's referendum

Brussels, 22 may 2014

To the companies bidding for EYATH, the Thessaloniki Water and Sewage Company:

Thessaloniki people has spoken, please withdraw your bid

Once again, we write you to demand that you withdraw your bid for EYATH, the Thessaloniki Water and Sewage Company. On May 18th, citizens of Thesaloniki have clearly expressed their strong opposition to the privatization of the public water company in a popular consultation. The No to privatization got the support of 98%, out of 218,000 people voting.

This is a clear signal that the privatization of EYATH is opposed by the citizens of the city, by the workers as well as by the municipalities of Thessaloniki. The only reason why this privatization is going ahead is because it is imposed by the Greek government, itself under pressure from the Troika to reduce Greek debt. There is nothing noble in profiting from this privatization for you and your company.

People from Thesaloniki are not alone. As you may well remember, over 130 civil society organizations, trade unions and individuals from Greece, Europe and around the world, together with up to 50 members of the European Parliament, already asked you to withdraw from the bid in a letter last year.

That means that, as in many other places, you will likely face years of protracted opposition both in Thessaloniki, Greece and across the world. These struggles are well documented. The companies involved find their reputations tarnished, their credibility in shreds, their risks increased and profits limited. We believe your bid is based on a feeble business case. We would hope that corporations today don’t base their business model on opportunism, nor venture into initiatives where they are clearly unwelcome.

There is an alternative to your bid that is supported by the workers of EYATH, by Thessonikians, by the municipalities and us. That is to keep the water company in public ownership and ensure it can continue to deliver a high quality service. It is based on the fact that water is a common good and access to drinking water and sanitation is a basic human right as recognized by the UN (2010) and the successful European Citizens Initiative "Water a Human Right", that collected 1,9 millions signatures across Europe.

We therefore ask you to listen to the will of the citizens of Thesaloniki and to withdraw your bid.