Thursday, 11 September 2008

Fight Back!

OH is not the author of this post. That accolade belongs to Jess the Dog

Now we have it –in black and white - evidence of the contempt with which energy companies view their customers. Asked what the worst case scenario would be with regard to spiralling energy prices, Mark Owen-Lloyd, head of power trading, replied “at worst, we’ll make more money”. My account with E-On will be cancelled in the next 24 hours.

Government initiatives to resolve the utility bills crisis are simply pathetic. This is in many ways a blessing, as any windfall tax would simply shift the burden on to middle-class consumers, benefiting both those in need and the elderly, but also the feckless NEET classes who never pay for anything. In any case, ministers and MPs are insulated from the worst effects of the credit crunch and can fall back on their overflowing trough of allowances. Rising utility bills are yet another burden on what I would call the “productive classes” – those in employment, who own homes and who are raising children – who are crippled by mortgage interest rates, fuel prices, food inflation, spiralling costs of travelling to work, and council tax rises (not in Scotland though).

Most of the iniquities we face have been borne with a mixture of stoicism and equanimity – perhaps in the knowledge that we won’t be saddled with this rotten UK government much longer - but the sheer contempt of those who are squeezing every last penny out of out pockets cannot be borne any longer. It is time to fight back against the E-Ons of this country. Unions can go on strike and will be walking out in search of higher pay – which will impact on taxpayers. Why don’t we follow their example and stage a cash strike?

Every business is dependant on monthly cash flow for profitability. If the cash flow dries up, an organisation has to fall back on reserves or borrowing to pay for commodities, salaries and overheads. This has a major impact on profitability. This should be the target of our fightback. Take the gas sector as an example. There are 20million customers and the average bill is £510 per annum, £127 per quarter or £42 per month. If customers staged a single month payment strike, then this would reduce cash flow by £840m. Even if only 10% of customers participated, then this would have an £84m impact. That cannot be ignored, either by a company or by government.

Moreover, we can strike with impunity. There is no way that any organisation could chase 2million defaulters. Outstanding poll tax arrears in Scotland account for over £400m and those defaulters numbered in the thousands. The government could not ignore this demonstration of power – rather than lukewarm initiatives on insulation, they could be forced into action. For energy bills, we want price cuts, not a windfall tax, which would only benefit the Treasury. The final point is this: we would not be refusing to pay, we would simply be delaying payment – a practice often used by large companies when dealing with small suppliers, in order to maximise profit. This is to send a message that the continued squeeze is unacceptable, rather than to avoid payment.

The message is clear. It is time to fight back. We are being screwed over, and laughed at as well. Enough is enough – join the fightback. Cancel your E-On account today and pledge to join the payment strike later this year.


electro-kevin said...

'Productive class' is important.

'Middle' and 'Working' class is divisive and splits two groups with similar values and aspirations and under attack from the same source - the minority left-wing elite.

Peter Hitchens first used 'productive class' five years ago in one of his polemics in the Mail on Sunday... after I'd explained my theory to him in one of our many email exchanges.

Nice to see it getting around - more of this and we'll be cooking on gas before long.

Roll on the revolution.

Injin said...

They don't have to give you gas and electricity, you know.

All they will do is turn off the supply, then slowly take everyone to court for what is owed.

A better idea is to stop relying on centralised systems from the get go, either partially or wholly.

Just a shame we don't have some device that runs off rain power. :)

Billy Wallace said...

If only, O.H.
How the fuck do you get every body that thinks alike to work together and make a stand.

Anonymous said...

Just wait till they start shutting the nuclear power stations off. With nothing else to replace them Britain is heading for a shit storm.

Tomrat said...


I agree with your analysis and some sort of unionised consumer walkout would be a good thing; problem is:

- No consumer group which purports to support consumers would ever condone such action; can you imagine Which? magazine calling its subscribers to strike or for Martin Lewis to stage demonstrations?

- Government would most certainly step in; its one thing to disagree with the poll tax but quite another to screw with an industry that supplies most of the states revenues (why else can LPUK promise to abolish income tax? aside from wanting small government income tax is a very visible but almost completely indefensible way of stealing money from people considering the duality of taxation on sales and buys).

- Big Energy would punish the weakest first; it is not beyond the biggest industries to stage a PR cout by attacking the weakest groups first - I can imagine the BBC headlines now the month before the strike showing old ladies freezing in their granny flats because power companies have to "prepare" (i.e. dissuade legitimate action) for a consumer strike. This would decrease popular support, especially amongst the left who would initially be attracted by the green implications.

- Consumer strikes/lobbying/embargoes tend to fail for a whole host of reasons: my favourite is the fair trade example - the poorest legitimate growers cannot afford the registration as a fair trade product and become much easier prey to larger trade consortium who then lay on the squeeze. Additionally when was the last time you saw Coca cola or Nestle going bust? Both have had major embargoes by entire substratas of the populace put on them for all sorts of violations across the developing world without so much as crying over lost revenues; how much more will a commodity notice this?


If you can arrange this and we can get the message out, much like OH has got his walk on the 5th out there, I would sign up to it no problem.

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