Press release: Protests against banks across UK and America


26/02/2011
ukuncut@gmail.com
www.ukuncut.org.uk
07591 992 825
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For Immediate Release

UKUNCUT: PROTESTS AGAINST BANKS ACROSS UK AND AMERICA

UK Uncut and the newly formed US Uncut are today holding protests inside and outside bailed-out banks in over 100 locations, from London and Dundee to New York and Honolulu.

In the UK, activists have been setting up creches, laundries, school class rooms,libraries, homeless shelters, drama club, walk-in clincs, youth centre, job centres, and leisure centres in more than 40 branches of RBS, Natwest and Loyds acrosss the country [1].

This is in reaction to the bonus annoucements that were released this week. Despite RBS making a loss of £1.1bn, RBS still paid out £950m in bonuses, including a £2m bonus for the cheif executive Stephen Hester [2]. Lloyds TSB also annouced large profits of £2.2bn bonuses, and in addition, because of previous lossess, they paid no corporation tax in the last financial year. [3]. Both banks have also revealed they have 135 and 121 offshore subsidiaries in tax havens respectively [4]

At midday in Islington, North London, 50 activists set up a laundry in an RBS branch in reaction to the Islington Council threats to cut services to the elderly, including a much-needed laundry service. The activist set up washing lines, clothes horses, buckets for handwashing, and a team of window cleaners on the outside. The protest was attended by over 15 pensioners and the local MP Jeremy Corbyn.

A classroom was set up In a Lloyds branch on Oxford street, London, in which Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation, John Christienson from Tax Justice and Anna Nolan from the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, gave lectures on the failures of the banking industry, tax avoidance and the alternative’s to the public sector cuts.

Branches of bailed out banks around the country have been transformed; including hospitals in Liverpool and Redhill; a classroom in Cardiff; a leisure centre in Eastleigh; a job centre in Birmingham; and 20 people brought tents and sleeping bags into natwest in Brixton to create a homeless shelter.

Ruth Griffiths, 36, said, “RBS, Natwest and Lloyds would have all collapsed if it were not for the billions given to them by the tax payer. It was their greed and reckless gambling that caused the economic crisis, yet while ordinary people are paying the price in cuts to vital services and benefits, like hospitals, creches and disability living allowance, they are awarding themselves obscene bonuses.”

Aisha Atkins, 32 said, “There are alternatives to the cuts, for example, making the banks pay for a crisis they created or by stopping tax dodging by big business and the super rich. But the government is making a political choice to reduce the deficit by making ordinary people pay with job losses and savaged services. RBS’s bonus pool alone could pay for around 45,000 nurses”

She continued, “We are transforming the banks into schools, leisure centres, laundry services and homless shelters to show that it’s our society that’s too big to fail, not a broken banking system.”

In America, protests are planned in around 50 locations [5] from the East right across to the West Coast, after taking inspiration from the UK Uncut movement in the UK. American activists will targeting the Bank of America which recieved a $2.3 bail-out. It is the largest Bank in the world, and the 5th largest corporation, yet it is a major tax avoider, paying less tax than the average American household [6].

Commenting on the new international alliance, Tim Jones, 28, one of those who founded UK Uncut in October, said, “Tax avoidance, reckless banking, and unjust cuts are international problems that need international action by ordianary people. This international day of action will be one of many to make governments around the world stand up to the banks and make them pay for their crisis, and to ensure the super rich stopping dodging tax .”

ENDS

[1] The complete list of locations in the UK is Aberdeen, Abergervenny, Ashby de la Zouch, Bedford, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Brighton, Cambridge, Canterbury, Colchester, Cardiff, Coventry, Doncaster, Dundee, Durham, Eastleigh, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Ipswich, Jedburgh, Leeds, Lewes, Liverpool, Brixton, Hanovery Square, City of London, Islington, Peckham, Regent Street, Wood Green, Manchester, Middlesborough, Minehead, Nottingham, Oxford, Portsmouth, Redhill, Salisbury, Sheffield, Southport, Tenby, Tunbridge Well.

[2] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12563720

[3]http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/feb/25/lloyds-returns-to-profit-high-street-booms

[4] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2011/02/26/lloyds-pays-zero-tax-despite-2-2bn-profit-115875-22950108/

[5] www.usuncut.org for the full action list

[6] http://usuncut.org/files/US-Uncut-DC-Fact-Sheet.pdf


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