Marking the latest energy cap rise, over one thousand people marched in Bristol to say Enough is Enough.
Around 1,500 people attended the Enough is Enough rally today (October 1) coinciding with similar rallies across the UK organised by the national cost of living campaign.
The Bristol rally started behind Temple Meads station at midday with speeches from the UCU and Acorn.
Aidan Cassidy from Acorn said: ‘Every single thing that we call a right today has been won through the sweat and the blood of the workers that preceded us.’
He added: ‘It’s the people like us who run this country. We’re the ones that teach your kids, we’re the ones that drive the trains, we’re the ones that deliver the mail. We’re the ones that clean up after the rich people have left. We are the ones that do the work in this country and it’s about time we had a say in how it’s run.’
Read more: Enough is Enough launches campaign in Bristol
Welcoming the large turnout for the rally, Cassidy warned that numbers are not enough.
‘We need to be organised,’ he said. ‘We have a duty, a vision and a collective responsibility to organise. What does that mean? We’ve got the mass of people on our side, but what are we actually going to do about it?’
Organising means ‘Lots and lots of conversations with the people that you live next door to, with the people that you see everyday. It means above all else graft. It means hard work.’
Targeting the energy companies
The rally then marched towards Temple Gate, stopping outside the offices of Ovo energy, a major energy supplier who gained notoriety in January when an email to customer sought to calm fears over rising energy bills by advising people to “do star jumps” and “cuddle your pets” to stay warm.
Ovo CEO Stephen Fitzpatrick later apologised for the email, blaming it on a “bad day” at the office for his comms team.
Protesters stuck mock “Wanted” posters on the windows of the Ovo building showing an image of Fitzpatrick with the message “Wanted…and all millionaire energy company bosses for crimes against the people.”
Next stop was the RMT and Aslef picket line outside Temple Meads. Here, Sheila Caffrey, president of Bristol TUC, railed against the profits of energy companies.
‘Why are our bills so high? Well it’s because of profits. We need to demand these profits back. Let’s nationalise the energy companies,’ Caffrey said.
‘While [prices are] in control of the bosses, they choose how much to charge us. That should be our choice so we can make sure that we can have heating all winter,’ she continued.
Caffrey said that different unions and strikes need to unite to ‘bring down this Tory government, to build society for workers, ran by workers.’ She called on the TUC to be ‘a council of war’ to coordinate the various ongoing strikes and strike funds.
Enough is Enough, or is it?
Finally, the protesters marched over the river on the Bath Road, turning onto nearby Mead Street where a CWU picket line stood outside the Post Office south east delivery office.
Here the protest came to an incongruous end. With no official end called, attendees simply wandered off in their own time. The lack of any clear call to action or sense of next steps was noticed by the crowd.
One protester shared her views: ‘I just feel like we need to carry this on today because today’s the day all the energy bills are going up. This has been really good but we need to do, in my opinion, a bit more extreme action to make change and make things happen, otherwise we are in an echo chamber where no one’s going to hear what we’re talking about.
‘I believe disruption causes change so I would like to see today carry on and maybe we’d march through town or cause more disruption in the streets.’
Her friend, commenting on the location of the protest’s finale, said: ‘no one’s actually seeing this protest, really. It feels a little bit, obviously it’s not useless, but we need people to see it, to see that people are angry.’
She added that people need to feel part of something larger. ‘People feel strong in a group and if you can’t see people protesting then you’re not going to think people are. We need to be going out into town and showing everyone that everyone else is feeling the same, rather than being here with people who already feel like this.’
October 1 also marked the beginning of the Don’t Pay campaign, which organises people in mass refusal to pay energy bills. The target of one million pledges to take part has not been reached and so the pay strike has been postponed. However, campaigner in Bristol held outreach events and drop-in sessions today to spread the word about their campaign.