16 October 2017
Twenty young workers, representing 16 trade unions from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Nigeria, met in Abuja on 11-12 September to attend a workshop sponsored by IMPACT and Kommunal about the remunicipalisation of public services.
This meeting was the opportunity to discuss collectively the many reasons why it is key to defend the public ownership of essential municipal services, how to ensure fair public procurement processes and why it is in everyone’s interest to reclaim them for the public whenever they are contracted out to the private sector.
Profit-oriented service procurement is not compatible with the general interest and the young trade union leaders uncovered many reasons why essential service privatisation does not work for people:
- Decline in service quality, affordability and accessibility
- Loss of sovereignty and public ownership of the service
- Higher cost of private investment compared to public funding
- High transaction costs, including monitoring costs and service management price markup paid as fees to the private company
- Impossibility to pursue non-profit service-related objectives (e.g. social, societal, environmental objectives etc.)
- Restructuring and cuts in service workforce;
- Worsening of working conditions, stress and pressure on workers, cost-saving measures in equipment and training, lower wages and precarious work
- Worsening health and safety practices and in some cases breach of minimum standards
During this workshop, PSI also shared and discussed with the group the key findings of the recent publication “Reclaiming Public Services: how citizens and cities are turning back privatisation” carried out in cooperation with the Transnational Institute. The publication looks at case-studies and recent examples of remunicipalisation from all over the world in various essential public services such as water, waste, electricity, transport, education, health and social care.
Participants also became acquainted with procurement processes in municipal services as well as the dual approach strategy developed by UNISON to promote the negotiation of procurement agreements with local authorities and limit the damage in case of contracting out a public service to a private provider. Finally, the young trade union leaders’ group worked together to identify the “red lines” that should never be crossed when it comes to delivering a public service, and identified a set of key clauses that should be included in any procurement agreement that aims at keeping service provision to the benefit of people and communities, and not for profit.