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Water charges, privatisation:  A modest proposal

23 May 2013

Kevin Keating

Below we reprint a recent bulletin: Irish Water Transition Programme Update issued by Dublin City council.  It makes fascinating reading. The transition, that is the road to privatisation and the application of water charges, is not just a transfer of resources, but a transfer of expertise and of people. Water and administrative workers are being asked to change to a new employer and to work to transfer money and resources from public to private hands.   This is only possible because the unions that represent them quietly agreed to support water privatisation as part of a modernisation agenda contained within social partnership and now contained within the Troika programme. When I received this bulletin I immediately wrote to the CAHWT steering committee. I am still awaiting a reply.

Irish Water Transition Programme Update 

The programme of work required to deal with the transition of water and wastewater services to the new national utility, Irish Water, is continuing to progress. Dublin City Council has set up a number of Working Groups to deal with the different work areas involved, such as Engineering, Planning and Development, Finance and IT, HR, Corporate Services and Communications. 

National Domestic Metering Survey 

Staff in the Water and Wastewater Services Division have begun surveys in Dublin city. Similar surveys are being carried out by local authority staff in all city and county councils. These surveys are taking place so that Irish Water can arrange for rollout of the water metering programme. 

Data Gathering 

The CCMA’s Water Services Transition Office (WSTO) issued data questionnaires to local authorities in March. The purpose of these questionnaires is to develop a detailed picture of Water and Wastewater Services and to allow both local authorities and Irish Water to plan effectively for the future. Work on completion of these questionnaires is underway. 


Irish Water invited applications from local authority staff for secondment and a number of staff have now received offers of secondment. The closing date for the second round of secondments was 19th April. Interviews for these positions will be held by Irish Water during May and June. The City Council’s ability to release any employee for secondment will be considered by management having regard to operational requirements and Statutory obligations and, where required, posts will be backfilled on a temporary basis and replacement staff trained to facilitate release on secondment. 


Irish Water has now commenced an open recruitment process to fill a number of positions in Irish Water. Information about this recruitment process is available directly from Irish Water. 

The Right to water – A call to the CAHWT

Dear Comrades,

Attached is an article on the process of transferring the water facilities of local and city councils to the new water authority in readiness for privatisation i.e. stealing the resources. This article was in the in-house newsletter of Dublin City Council, it demonstrates that the process cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of council workers and cannot be privatised without the skills and knowledge base of the council workers being utilised either by transferring to the new body or by their knowledge and skills being passed on.

Unfortunately the union bosses are presently busy colluding within the terms of the program set by our troika masters and are unlikely to act against what I consider a key weakness in the troika offensive, it requires not just the consent of workers but also their active participation. The campaign needs to reorient its propaganda and resources away from workers in their homes to workers in their workplace. We need to break from the electoralism which characterised the campaign from the start and is threatening to blow it apart.

This cannot mean just work in union branches (who goes to them?). We see what is happening to the no vote against Croke park 2.  The union officials who are most in favour of it are the most involved in patching up an outcome which is shamelessly based on dividing workers against each other and, in the year of the anniversary of the 1913 lockout, peddling a brand of trade unionism in which unions fight with each other over who gets the worst of the 1 billion payroll cuts, with all sorts of special pleading and side deals which can only divide and break any chance of class solidarity. 

Here is an opportunity to appeal directly to workers, none of whom I'm sure thought that paying union dues was for their leaders to negotiate pay and conditions cuts. It’s hard to imagine Connolly and Larkin building their union on the slogan of: Join the transport union we'll get better pay cuts than the others!


Kevin Keating


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