CHEQUE IT OUT
This past Monday (15th) saw a wave of actions around the country against the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). While you haven’t ever got to look far for why banks need targeting (war, climate change, child labour, you name it they’ve paid for and profited- from it!), Rising Tide singled out RBS (who own Natwest, Direct Line and Churchill insurance) for special treatment due to the dodginess of their vast oil investments. When not funding controversial projects in Nigeria or the gas pipeline in Wales (see www.fightthepipe.co.uk), its involvement in Angolan and Azeri oil fields encourages corruption and conflict, while gas projects from the Arabian Gulf to the Gulf of Mexico threaten environmental destruction.
The thirty oil and gas finance deals RBS signed between 2001 and 2006 means they are facilitating 655 million tonnes of emissions over the next 15 years, more than the UK’s entire annual emissions.
Ironically, all this may not even have come to the attention of protesters had the bank rather rashly not boasted about it all – launching a swaggering new corporate website, subtly called www. TheOilAndGasBank.com
Over thirty actions took place all over the UK. A dozen visited the RBS headquarters in London, one scaling the building to unfurl a large banner, while others distributed hundreds of leaflets, being careful not to step on the suspiciously people-shaped polar bears having a die-in.
It was a similar story in Manchester, with the addition of a band, as the regional HQ was targeted.
Bristolian polar bears locked-on to the doors of their local RBS office imaginatively using suitcases full of cement. They blocked all vehicle access to the site and it took police over four hours to remove them.
In Edinburgh and Norwich super glue was the weapon of choice, putting bank staff in a sticky situation when they came to open up. Other attention-grabbing stunts include entering branches in Oxford and Birmingham carrying large cardboard pipelines, mock staff offering the public the chance to ‘open an oil rig today’ in Bath and the Glasgow RBS were treated to a impromptu show by the Treacle Tart Cabaret, a zanily dressed duo who sang, danced, waved placards and got up on the cashiers’ desks to strut their stuff.
Such a barrage of actions may certainly have dented RBS’s pride but it will still take a lot to make them fall... but the protesters will be back - you can bank on it.
For a more comprehensive roundup and pix see www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2007/10/383812.html and www.risingtide.org.uk
– from SchNEWS Issue 607, 19 October 2007