The tap gushing excessive pay for water company bosses should be turned off, Unite, the country largest union, said today (Thursday 5 July), on the eve of a demonstration to mark the 29th anniversary of the ‘misguided’ privatisation of the industry.

Unite said it is backing the London event to be staged by the campaigning organisation, We Own It, tomorrow (Friday 6 July). 

The demonstration at Gabriel's Wharf, near the Oxo Tower  (SE1 9PH) at 12.30 tomorrow comes in the week that the industry watchdog Ofwat said that excessive pay-outs for water company bosses and shareholders had damaged customer trust and could be curbed in future.

Unite acting national officer for utilities Peter McIntosh said: “Unite fully supports We Own It and its campaign to bring back the water companies into public ownership which will bring to an end the obscene payments being made to directors and shareholders alike.

“We need to turn off the tap of excessive pay awards to water company bosses and put the interests of the hard-pressed consumer first.

“Thames Water has been in the news recently about the outrageous bonus package of its chief executive Steve Robertson. It is clear that the floodgates of public disapproval at excessive payments for top water industry executives are at bursting point.

“The reservoir of corporate greed in the water industry needs to be drained as a matter of urgency and we believe that Ofwat needs to be much tougher on this issue.

“Water is essential for the maintenance of life and should not be used as a pool for private profit. It was a misguided and flawed right-wing ideology that saw the water industry privatised under Margaret Thatcher.”

In England and Wales, the provision of water and wastewater services was moved from the public to the private sector in 1989 as part of the Tory’s government’s large-scale privatisation programme.


Notes to editors:

'Water privatisation has failed - it's time to #OwnOurWater! Join me in the @We_OwnIt #SplashMob for public ownership of water by adding your name here:'

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065


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  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.