Nat West/RBS Boycott – what this means for you

Over the last week, it has been brought to the attention of the Student Officer Committee that the boycott of NatWest/RBS is being breached. As a result, we have had to review Union activity to ensure that we are abiding by the policies as you, the membership, intended.

The policy can be found at http://www.ueastudent.com/image_uploads/ethical-banking-1035.pdf but what it mandates us to do is below:

  • “To bank with an optimal bank
  • To mandate the Communications Officer to write to the chairman of RBS-NatWest and the Chancellor of the Treasury:

a) informing him of our commitment to the environment, and expressing our view that this commitment is incompatible with significant parts of RBS’s investment strategies.

b) calling for RBS-NatWest to immediately stop investing in projects and companies that destroy fragile and irreplaceable eco-systems.

c) calling for RBS-NatWest to refuse to finance businesses or ventures that fail to uphold human rights or have close links to oppressive regimes.

d) calling for RBS-NatWest to set and publish annual reduction targets for the emissions resulting from lending to fossil fuel projects and companies.

e) calling for RBS-NatWest to prioritise lending to low-carbon companies, technologies and infrastructure

f) to inform them that we shall consider a more optimal bank if RBS does not substantially cut their commitment to investing in fossil fuel extraction and exploration programmes.

  • To boycott RBS-NatWest if they do not meet these demands by August 2011.
  • To strengthen the Environmental and Ethical Questionnaire as part of the Bank Tender process.”

As a result of this policy, we changed our bank from Nat West to The Co-Operative as they provide much more ethical banking and investments than Nat West. The ethics policy of The Co-Operative can be found here http://www.goodwithmoney.co.uk/ethical-banking/.

The Student Officer Committee (part time and full time officers) have been discussing the interpretation of this policy and its original intentions and believe that a boycott to mean a total boycott of all of NatWest/RBS activity.

What does this mean?

Both this year and last year, clubs and societies have been applying to the RBS/ESSA fund in order to raise money for their activities. By doing so, they have unknowingly been breaching this policy and the Student Officer Committee apologises for not discouraging clubs and societies to apply. Any club or society that continues in ESSA will be breaching Union policy and, as such, the club or society is in breach of their code of conduct.

At Sports Council, it was also raised that this boycott should also apply to any NatWest/RBS sponsored activity broadcast in the Union Pub. This would include the 6 Nations Rugby and any NatWest Cricket series that are broadcast. Whilst these are popular events, the boycott means that we will not be showing these events in Union venues.

What if you don’t agree?

The Union of UEA Students is constantly changing. The Union is a charity that represents you and your views; if you wish to change this policy in any way, you should contact your Union Council Rep and lobby them to submit an amendment to the policy. The Union’s staff and officers will always act as mandated by you, the members and are dedicated to ensuring that students’ voices are heard on these matters.

Any further questions please email Joe Levell at union.finance@uea.ac.uk or Rosie Rawle at union.ethics@uea.ac.uk.

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