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Greece wouldn’t be the first place to privatize public water utilities during a fiscal crisis. Conditioning loans based on full or partial water privatization is an increasingly common practice of international lenders – and much criticized.
“You can tell if a society is democratic if its water is available to everyone, if it’s clean, and in public hands.” says Kostas Marioglou, a union leader at the water utility in Thessaloniki and organizer for a citizen’s initiative (Initiative 136) to buy the water utility from the Greek government.
Initiative 136 is a citizens’ initiative that opposes the privatization of the Water and Sanitation Company in Thessaloniki and proposes its social management through local-level cooperatives. The union badly wants to stop the threatened privatization, but if it does proceed, the cooperatives will do their best to hold the company accountable.