Campaigners from Unite and other groups gathered outside the Treasury this morning (August 12) to protest chancellor George Osborne’s knock-down sale of taxpayers’ stake in RBS.
Last week (August 4), Osborne’s grand bank share giveaway kicked off, with 600m shares being sold to institutional investors, resulting in a £1bn loss to the taxpayer overnight.
During the protest, organised by Move Your Money and supported by Unite, the New Economics Foundation, We Own It, SumofUs, and the Robin Hood Tax campaign, activists presented a petition with more than 100,000 signatures to the Treasury, calling on the chancellor to halt the bank’s sell-off.
One of the protestors, wearing a giant papier-mâché head of Osborne, held a mock auction in which shares were sold-off to activists dressed as hedge fund managers – with the biggest shares going to the lowest bidder.
Unite national officer for finance Rob MacGregor supported the protest on behalf of Unite’s RBS members.
“We’re supporting this action today because George Osborne’s fire sale of the public stake in RBS, essentially a taxpayer subsided privatisation, is a disgrace and it’s clear from the strength of the petition that the public agree with us,” MacGregor said.
By selling our shares in RBS at mates’ rates to the hedge funds, Osborne has lost the Treasury over £1bn, a figure expected to rise to over £14bn by the time the sell-off is complete,” he added. “Yet this isn’t just about the share price, the sale is a political decision by George Osborne.”
The sell-off comes just as Osborne is pushing through £12bn in welfare cuts which will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.
MacGregor maintained that keeping a bank owned by the public is an opportunity for the government to invest in fixing the broken banking system.
“After handing over so much of our money to the banks in 2008, the least we should expect is for our public stake to be put to use to clean up the industry and end the boardroom culture of misconduct that led to the crisis in the first place,” he said. “By selling off the public’s shares Osborne is purposefully throwing away the opportunity to bring scrutiny, transparency to one of Britain’s largest banks.”
Lend your support to our campaign against the RBS sell-off – sign the SumofUs petition here.
- Photo by Howard Jones