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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 June 2012

Police wade in at Coryton protest

Dave Murray
Croyton protest 25 June 2012: dozens of workers, their families and supporters protested against imminent job losses Coryton Oil Refinery, photo Ian Pattison

Croyton protest 25 June 2012: dozens of workers, their families and supporters protested against imminent job losses Coryton Oil Refinery, photo Ian Pattison   (Click to enlarge)

Unite the union stepped up its campaign to save 850 jobs at Coryton oil refinery by calling a protest at the Vopak fuel terminal in Grays on 25 June. The terminal is a major distribution hub for forecourts across southeast England.

Seventy union members and supporters gathered near the gate, initially to put their case to tanker drivers on their way in. About an hour into the protest the police "allowed" the demonstration to muster in front of the gates for a "photo opportunity".

As we listened to speakers including a construction electrician, Steve Hedley from the RMT, Rob Williams of the NSSN and an Asturian miner, the police became increasingly agitated. It had dawned on them that while we stood at the gates no tankers could go in or out.

Their first action was to step up the pressure on the Unite branch chair to ask us to clear the gates, producing a Vopak manager who said we were trespassing - which would allow the police to invoke punitive laws related to aggravated trespass.

The bulk of the demonstration stood firm, insisting on hearing out the Spanish speaker. Meanwhile, dozens of fuel tankers were backing up on each side of the gates. Ashen-faced senior police officers started trotting around to organise a more physical response.

Croyton protest 25 June 2012: dozens of workers, their families and supporters peacefully protesting against imminent job losses Coryton Oil Refinery were attacked by the police, photo Ian Pattison

  (Click to enlarge)

When that response came it was brutal, as a line of riot police inserted themselves between us and the gates by violent pushing and open-handed strikes. The police left us in no doubt that they were ready to step up the violence and we were forced away from the gate.

The arrest of three protesters followed, one of them an activist in the rank and file committee of the Sparks construction electricians. We demand that all those arrested are immediately released without charge and that these jobs and skills are not lost.

Though we only held the gates for 40 minutes, news has come in that at least one forecourt, the Tesco superstore at Hatfield, ran out of diesel that night - a glimpse of what could be achieved if Unite could deliver effective industrial action at Coryton and solidarity across the industry.

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In The Socialist 27 June 2012:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Hypocrites! Tories bash benefits, rich let off the hook

Breadline Britain - living in poverty

Poverty and job worries hit mental health

Teachers report children going hungry

Government of rich ups war on welfare state

Miliband speech: no answer to the race to the bottom

Protest for affordable housing - join the Austerity Games

Life in a 'forgotten' area

Cuts ignore immense needs

Them & Us


Socialist Party NHS campaign

EMERGENCY: Stop NHS cuts!

Stop the NHS massacre


Socialist Party workplace news

London bus workers show their strength

Police wade in at Coryton protest

HMRC members show their opposition to another round of job cuts and privatisation

RMT conference prepares for battle

Sheffield recycling workers: Support their indefinite strike action

Unison conference Delegates call for effective battle on pay

Unison backs Tamil Solidarity

Unite conference 'The renaissance of trade unionism'

Block on Progress - "intolerable think tank"?

Wales Shop Stewards Network


Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition: Building the fight against all cuts


International socialist news and analysis

Spain: New epicentre of crisis in Europe

Kazakh embassy protest to free Bolat Atabayev


 

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