We’d thought we had seen the end of the protests. The 48 hours of action that had been called was annoying enough, but that would be it. We’d taken down the Harris fencing around our headquarters and were waiting for just another days work running and planning to build coal-fired power stations. Before we knew it two van loads of people dressed in Santa Clause costumes with “e.on f.off” emblazoned on them, were unloading coal, scrambling on our building and generally running amok.
Just before 9am yesterday morning, about 15 managed to get inside the building bringing, they say, presents of coal, because apparently e.on has been very naughty this year – because we want to build a new coal fired power station in Kingsnorth and continuing to contribute to climate change. Outrageous. We are a decent, respectable company. Some managed to get to a boardroom meeting and dish out a lump of coal to all sitting there. Others got scarily close to the CEO’s office. Others engaged with staff on the large open plan office that made their voices heard by all. It took us a good hour to clear the pesky Santas from the building.
Meanwhile there was one unsuccessful attempt to scale part of the roof, but at the revolving doors at the main entrance, two were able to get up and hold up a banner. Several of those in the foyer glued onto side doors, while yet another Santa, found himself in the middle of the revolving doors, also glued on in the midst of a pile of coal bags with “Co2 al” printed on them. Later yet another Santa glued themselves to a barrier.
Some claimed to have be bringing the mystical solution of “carbon capture and storage” – coal left as it is.
We had to lock the entire building down, forbid staff from leaving, and turned away loads of visitors that were arriving, it being a busy day for us. This despite us having already introduced various security measures such as new turnstiles – maybe next time we’ll have them locked so the protestors cannot simply walk through them to the open office.
I can tell you that e.on are deeply unhappy at being made a fool of so comprehensively yet again. On the day that Lord Turner released his report that the government would fail dramatically to reach its CO2 reduction targets if e.on are allowed to build a new power station at Kingsnorth before controversial carbon capture and storage technologies have been developed. The protests made Radio 4 headline news at mid-day, much of the local media and other press. There were at least four cameras from mainstream media while a number of other independent photojournalists were also there to make sure it was properly covered. The bosses are not happy, and the protestors got some good images.
My staff, from Initial Rentokil, were not enthusiastic about how they had been made to look like bumbling idiots. They need to calm down a bit and stop kneeling on people’s necks because they have been defied. Some of them were not helping their bosses by being rude to the BBC cameraman and other media. They strutted up and down like lost penguins, trying to shove people around and shoving cameras in to the faces of the Santa Clauses – though they all got waves back. We had to seem important by telling staff in the canteen that they were not allowed to look at the protestors – the top brass were getting jumpy by then.
Some of my security need to think as well, it seems. Wasn’t the brightest thing to say that protestors were fine to stay at the main door. Nor was telling the protestors on the roof of the door that they could not attach the banner to the wall because e.on would not be able to get it down.
If all that was not enough bumbling, in a deft movement, the Santa Claus’s realised that the staff had not locked the revolving door and used the fact to get a half-dozen back in to the building were they ran around singing altered Christmas hymn about no new coal. Loads of more images for the waiting press, including them congo’ing through our main foyer.
Eventually they released themselves, and proceeded to leave. West Midlands police were there, and had kept a pretty useless, low profile throughout the day. Now, at the request of our boss they decided to do something. They were very low on numbers and clearly were not up for removing the actual protest, despite the fact the protestors were clearly peaceful and mostly singing their silly songs. The police tried to form a line to stop them leave but their public order training was woefully bad and kept letting them escape through despite the fact they were carrying sacks of coal.
A number were seized and arrested; though some were let go because the police were little better than our security guards in terms of knowing what they were doing. Four ended up going to the cells, of which two have been released. They rest sailed away.
All in all, quite a bad day for us here at e.on. We’re going to have to rethink our entire security plan, having been comprehensively embarrassed. The bosses are fuming at having e.on’s reputation yet again dragged through the mud, and it is clear that the campaign against us is not going to fade away.
By the way, there is a load of email addresses for our various companies at http://www.eon.com/en/infoservice/3027.jsp
Hopefully we’ll not see more protestors soon.