National wave of student protest forces energy giant to abandon recruitment tour
Anti-coal protests at graduate careers fairs around the UK have forced E.ON
to cancel the remainder of its recruitment tour. The energy company, which is planning to build a new coal power station at Kingsnorth, Kent , has seen at least seventeen of its careers events disrupted over the last few weeks .
This has been a co-ordinated national effort from students involved in People & Planet, the Coal Action Network, and the Camp for Climate Action . Leaflets, banners, fancy dress, onversations with attendees and eye-catching stunts were used to embarrass EON
and dissuade graduates from joining the company . The Royal Bank of Scotland, one of EON
's main financial backers, were also targeted at the fairs over their role in providing loans to build the proposed new power station .
These tactics have been a resounding success. On Tuesday morning, student activists arrived at Loughborough University Graduate Fair to find the E.ON stall empty. Yesterday in Birmingham there were similar scenes, with students dressed as elephants (because climate change is the "elephant in E.ON's boardroom") finding no target for their protest. Upon enquiry the organisers  informed Loughborough students that E.ON had cancelled their remaining graduate ecruitment events this year, due to the level of protest they had received.
While E.ON has thus far failed to comment on their decision to pull out of the graduate recruitment fairs, Jane Benson of the Camp for Climate Action said today:
"This is a great step for the campaign against a new coal fired power station at Kingsnorth. E.ON know they can't defend their plans in the midst of a climate crisis, so rather than be embarrassed in front of potential employees they've chosen to run away." This victory for campaigners comes just two weeks before a planned 48 hours of action against E.ON and new coal .
The two days of action (Friday 28th and Saturday 29th November) are being supported by the Camp for Climate Action
, Rising Tide, Plane Stupid
and Campaign against Climate Change. The new government Department for Energy and Climate Change is currently deliberating over whether to give the go-ahead for a new coal power station at Kingsnorth, and an announcement is expected soon.
Robert Jenkins from the People & Planet Associated Network for Direct Action (PANDA) said "E.ON think they are safe, because most people don't know they are the owners of Kingsnorth power station. These recruitment fairs have helped to out E.ON as the biggest climate criminal in the UK. After all, as they themselves boast, climate change lies at the heart of everything they do . Everyone who cares about our future on this planet should join us for 48 hours of action against E.ON and new coal at the end of November." E.ON have applied for Government permission to build the first new UK coal-fired plant in thirty years at Kingsnorth in Kent. If built, this power station would produce the same amount of carbon dioxide as the world's 30 least polluting countries combined. Careers events at the following universities were targeted by student campaigners: Glasgow, Durham, Southampton, King's College London, Imperial, York, Sheffield, Aston, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, Loughborough, Manchester, Nottingham and Oxford. Seehttp://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/11/412804.html for more details. This represents almost all of E.ON's planned 2008 recruitment events (see http://www.eon-uk.com/Careers/Graduates/807.aspx for the full list). See www.peopleandplanet.org, www.leaveitintheground.org.uk, and www.climatecamp.org.uk. Here are some of the tactics used by campaigners at a few of the events:
In total, hundreds of activists were involved, and thousands of leafletswere distributed to graduates. In 2008, the report, 'Cashing in on Coal', showed that in the preceding two years, BS-NatWest had been loaned an estimated $16 billion in 27 different loans to coal-related companies around the world, including taking part in loans worth $70 billion to E.ON at a time when it was announcing plans to construct 17 new coal and gas-fired power plants across Europe. see http://www.oyalbankofscotland.com/cioc/ The Loughborough fair (and many of the others) were organised byAIESEC http://www.aiesec.co.uk/. See http://www.e-onf-off.org.uk/ for more details The most prominent slogan on E.ON's recruitment stall was "Tackling climate change isn't something that's tacked onto our agenda. It's at the heart of our business". This was widely spoofed by activists at theevents, by the simple removal of the word "tackling"
- Leeds: Leafleted, talked to students, dropped an "E.ON:F.OFF" banner from a balcony inside the fair
- Bristol: Attended two fairs with leaflets, stickers and a polar bear, until thrown out by security
- Liverpool: Leaflets, conversations with graduates and a banner drop.
- Glasgow: A team of Rebel Clowns invaded the fair.
- Nottingham: A gang of grim reapers flyered the fair and congratulated E.ON staff on the death rate from climate change
- Manchester: A "Flashmob" wearing bright yellow "Leave It In The Ground" T-shirts materialised at the fair, handed out hundreds of flyers and dumped coal all over E.ON's stall.
- Kings College London: Flyered the fair and covered the backs of security guards in "No New Coal" stickers
- Imperial: The fair was invaded and flyered, and E.ON were serenaded with a "soul power not coal power" song.
- Cambridge: Invaded the fair with T-shirts and leaflets, and dropped "Make a Living - Not a Killing" banners outside.
- Oxford: Flyered, presented E.ON with a "Best Greenwash" award and dumpedcoal on their stall.
Labels: coal, eon, students, uk grass-roots activism
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