Public Services: Commodity or Common Good?

In The Tragedy of the Private | The Potential of the Public, a new booklet co-published by Public Services International and the Transnational Institute, Hilary Wainwright argues that now is the time to turn back the tide of public services privatization. As local authorities around the world begin to reincorporate public services outsourced during the Reagan and Thatcher years, anti-privatization activists have an opportunity not just to accelerate the trend toward public recapture, but also to democratize public services providers from within. Written primarily for union activists, the booklet asks how public services unions can accomplish these goals in the face of opposition from powerful local, national, and international actors. The answer—drawn from real-world examples of anti-privatization campaigns in South Africa, Brazil, Greece, and elsewhere—is at once straightforward and profound: Public services unions are most likely to be successful in fighting privatization when they form meaningful, lasting alliances with the communities in which they operate.

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