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GMB Welcomes McDonnell Water Pledge

Monday, September 24, 2018


Union backs McDonnell’s announcement that a Labour Government would put an end to water privatisation as a step forward for workers and bill payers

GMB, the union for water industry workers, has welcomed an announcement from Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell that a Labour Government’s programme for public ownership would start with England's water industry.

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell told Labour Conference he would end the profiteering of privatised water and set up a new publicly owned water system that puts control back in the hands of the people.

GMB has is running the campaign to Take Back the Tap and return the water industry into public hands [1]

The campaign is supported by six pledges to water industry workers, including investment, health and safety, and collective bargaining which John McDonnell affirmed in his speech today [2]

In recent months, GMB investigations into England’s nine privatised water companies have revealed the following:

·         Dividends worth £6.5 billion were paid out to shareholders in the past five years, with £1.4 paid out in 2017 alone. [3]

·         2.4 billion litres of water is wasted through leaks every single day in England. [4]

·         CEOs of the nine privatised water company trousered a whopping £58 million in salary, bonuses, pensions and other benefits over the past five years. [5]

·         While shareholders pocketed these eye-watering sums, consumer water bills in England and Wales have increased by 40% above inflation since privatisation in 1989 according to a report by the National Audit Office [6]

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary, said:

“The privatisation of our water industry is a failed and unpopular experiment. It’s been bad for workers and bad for bill payers. The only people it hasn’t been bad for are shareholders who are coining it in.

“Labour are doing the right thing, backing GMB’s Take Back the Tap campaign, and pledging to put an end to the thirty year scandal of privatised water

"The Tories continue to defend an indefensible racket where the only real winners are the shareholders, spivs and speculators.

“We welcome the Shadow Chancellor’s commitment to putting water back in public hands at the first possible opportunity and making our water services work for the many and not the few.”


Contact: Press Office on 07958 156846 or at

[1] Take Back the Tap

[2] The six pledges for water industry workers underpinning the 'Take Back the Tap' campaign are:

1. No worker will be worse off including those in workplace share schemes 

2. Safeguarding or improving pensions to provide dignity and security in retirement

3. Greater investment in the industry's infrastructure and equipment 

4. Increased staffing levels and insourcing of contracted workers

5. Improved health and safety with worker involvement in establishing new safety standards

6. Valuing collective bargaining and trade union involvement in decisions affecting workers before and during public ownership




[6] National Audit Office report: The Economic Regulation of the Water Sector, page 9 (2015)


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