Report celebrates worldwide movement to reclaim services from privatisation 

Boost for public ownership as report finds 835 examples across the world of reversing privatisation

COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE are turning the tide on profiteering and privatisation towards re-establishing services for the public good. 

A new report ‘Reclaiming public services: How cities and citizens are turning back privatisation’ by the Transnational Institute, with cooperation from various trade unions, explains the success of movements from a city to national level to de-privatise.  

According to the Institute, campaigns share “a goal to end private sector abuse or labour violations; a desire to regain control over the local economy and resources; a wish to provide people with affordable services; or an intention to implement ambitious climate strategies”.

Successful movements to re-establish public ownership - over the documented rush to privatise since the neo-liberal wave from the 1980s onwards - is taking place across the developed and developing worlds. 

The most common areas that have returned to public ownership are energy (311 cases) and water (267 cases). Hundreds of other examples were found across local government services, health and social work, transport, education, and rubbish collection.

“It is important to demystify the process of privatisation that has been launched in recent years by several governments, because it's a model that has not proved its efficiency, failing to offer a better service or a better price.” Eloi Badia, Barcelona

Authors Satoko Kishimoto and Olivier Petitjean said: “Sometimes it may feel as though we are living in a time when profit and austerity – when it is not authoritarianism and xenophobia – are our only horizons. In reality, below the radar, thousands of politicians, public officials, workers and unions, and social movements are working to reclaim or create effective public services that address the basic needs of people and respond to our social, environmental and climate challenges.”

In Scotland the government has unveiled plans for a public-sector owned bid to control the country’s rail system - which was privatised by a previous Tory Government. 

Under Jeremy Corbyn, the UK Labour party now supports returning the National Grid, Royal Mail, the railways, and the water industry in England to public ownership. 

Various city-led movements also put their names to the Institute’s work. Ulli Sima, Vienna City councilor for the environment and Wiener Stadtwerke, explained: “As early as 2001, Vienna protected drinking water with a constitutional decision. Municipal services must remain public and should not be sacrificed to private profit. We want to ally with other cities for strong municipal services.”

Eloi Badia, the Barcelona councilor for presidency, water and energy, added: “It is important to demystify the process of privatisation that has been launched in recent years by several governments, because it's a model that has not proved its efficiency, failing to offer a better service or a better price.”

Picture courtesy of Bring Back British Rail

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