Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/724/14770
From The Socialist newspaper, 27 June 2012
Police wade in at Coryton protest
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.
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.
Donate to the Socialist Party
The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.
The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.
The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.
- The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
- When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.
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
The Socialist 27 June 2012 |
Join the Socialist