OPSEU, environmentalists cheer as Nestle sells water business

"Water is life" poster

News that the multinational Nestle is selling its Canadian bottled-water business is being greeted with cheers from environmentalists across the province, including OPSEU and the OPSEU Indigenous Circle.

“Water isn’t for profit. As the members of the OPSEU Indigenous Circle say, ‘Water is life,'” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “I’m glad to hear we’ve helped force Nestle to abandon its water profiteering. But we have to stay vigilant: another company is rushing in to pick up where Nestle left off.”

For years, OPSEU members have joined grass-roots environmental groups across Ontario — including the Wellington Water Watchers — in condemning Nestle for buying water for next to nothing and then selling it at a huge mark-up in environmentally unfriendly bottles.

OPSEU has supported the Water Watchers’ campaigns over the years. And the OPSEU Indigenous Circle’s 2017 Water is Life Symposium dealt with the damage done by water privatization like Nestle’s.

“Water should be like air – it should be a basic human right,” said Thomas during the symposium. “It should never be sold for a profit and what we’re seeing around the world is that water systems are being privatized for profit rather than being for people.”

“When you see the greed of corporations that separate out those people who can afford to pay for a bottle of water from those who can’t, it becomes a moral imperative to be able to say ‘We need to stop this. We need to return to something sane,'” said symposium participant and human rights activist Karl Flecker.

“It is important to join the fight against water privatization,” said one of the symposium’s organizers, OPSEU Indigenous Circle member Crystal Sinclair. “Water protection is very important – it’s our most precious resource.”