Home | Friday 4th March 2011 | Issue 761
BONUS CULTURE UNCUT
In reaction to last week’s brazen bumper bank bonus announcements, on Saturday (26th) UK Uncut activists set up shop in more than 40 branches of RBS, Natwest and Lloyds across the country.
The idea was to reimagine them as more socially useful spaces, making clear the links between the massive cuts in public services on the one hand, and bailed out banks returning to ‘business-as-usual’ at everybody else’s expense on the other. Branches were thus appropriately decorated and staffed by activists ‘reopening’ them as everything from creches and libraries to walk-in clinics and lesiure centres.
In Islington fifty activists launched a two-pronged attack and set up a laundry in an RBS branch, a nod to the Council’s threats to cut services to the elderly, including a much-needed laundry service. Protesters set up washing lines, buckets for handwashing, and a team of window cleaners on the outside.
Meanwhile it was back to school at Lloyds on Oxford St. A classroom was set up in the branch and lectures on the failures of the banking industry, tax avoidance and the alternatives to the public sector cuts were given.
Branches of bailed out banks around the country were transformed; including hospitals in Liverpool and Redhill; a classroom in Cardiff; a leisure centre in Eastleigh; a job centre in Birmingham; and twenty people brought tents and sleeping bags into Natwest in Brixton to create a homeless shelter.
Despite RBS making a loss of £1.1bn, they still paid out £950m in bonuses, including £2m to CEO Stephen Hester. Lloyds TSB also announced large profits and £2.2bn bonuses - and that because of previous losses they actually paid no corporation tax at all in the last financial year! The two tax-avoidance specialists also revealed they have, respectively, 135 and 121 offshore subsidiaries in tax havens.
* For more and news on future demos see www.ukuncut.org.uk/blog