Students Union boycotts RBS

Article published: Saturday, October 23rd 2010

The University of Manchester Students Union (UMSU) has passed a motion to boycott the Royal Bank of Scotland. The motion, passed on 20 October, included a resolution to “cease all relationships with the Royal Bank of Scotland” for being in breach of the Union’s ethical policy. The policy states the Union shall “not operate in such a way, or invest in any other company or organisation, that is environmentally damaging, especially exacerbating climate change.”
RBS currently leases branch space from the Oxford Road premises of the Students Union. The boycott will require the company to vacate those premises. RBS will also be barred from any marketing or recruiting opportunities at all UMSU events.

The boycott has been called in response to the bank’s heavy investment in fossil fuel projects such as tar sands and new coal-fired power stations. Last year, RBS provided £117 million worth of loans and equity to Cairn Energy who have recently began drilling off the coast of Greenland. This operation has proved particularly controversial, since the area has not been exploited for oil before, only becoming possible as climate change has caused icebergs in the region to melt.

Amanda Walters, Campaigns Officer for UMSU said, “RBS is in breach of our ethical and sustainable code. We can no longer have a financial relationship with RBS because they are one of the biggest investors in fossil fuels which worsen people’s lives due to climate change.

“RBS is 84 per cent owned by the UK taxpayer. It’s outrageous that this public money is being used to destroy our future. Edinburgh University has recently switched to banking with RBS. We encourage them, and all other Students Unions to boycott the Royal Bank of Scotland,” she continued.

The boycott move follows a series of high profile campaign actions by Manchester activists both locally and nationally. In 2008, campaigners from People & Planet disrupted RBS recruitment stalls and hosted a mock ‘Greenwash Awards’ show outside the company’s regional headquarters in Manchester. In February 2009, activists occupied the roof of the RBS branch at UMSU. In August 2010, around 900 people targeted the Royal Bank of Scotland headquarters during the Climate Camp protests in Edinburgh.

“As a major international bank we provide support for businesses working across many industries and reflect the make up of society and the economy. Just as society as a whole has to make a transition to renewable energy sources so will banks like RBS. In fact in recent years RBS has been one of the most active banks in the world in providing funding for renewable energy projects so we are at the forefront of helping finance the transition,” said a spokesperson for RBS.

Toby Brett, from Manchester People & Planet said, “RBS’ investments led to people getting evicted from their homes both in the UK and globally. Students have come together to say that we shall not stand for such actions, which are clearly not in our interests, and so we’ve evicted them in return.”

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  1. Another boycott – one we can all get involved in!/pages/Boycott-the-companies-that-support-the-Tories-cuts/160725823949556

    Comment by tim on October 25, 2010 at 4:20 pm

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