There were protests outside Coryton oil refinery this morning amid warnings that its closure could see over £100m drained from the economy.

More than 100 people, including members of Unite the union and Labour MEP Richard Howitt, braved the weather to stage a demonstration outside the threatened refinery. They then descended on Corringham town centre to leaflet and gain the support of local businesses.

The demonstration and community action followed warnings from the leader of Thurrock council that the economic impact of the refinery’s closure would be huge. Nearly 1,000 people working at Coryton face losing their jobs if the closure goes ahead.

Britain’s largest union, Unite, called on the government to follow the example of the French government and act in the national interest by giving state aid to keep Coryton running until a buyer can found.

Thurrock council commissioned an economic impact assessment on the closure or change of use of the site. Initial indications point to the loss of £30m in wages, £26m in contractor costs, £6m in locally sourced materials, as well as £40m spent on chemicals and utilities, plus £5m in business rates.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said: “The economic impact and human cost of Coryton’s closure will be massive. The government cannot continue to sit on its hands and allow livelihoods to be destroyed.

“Over £100m could be drained from the local and national economy as well as the UK’s refining capacity being undermined. Today’s protest shows that the workers who have kept the site running feel let down and angry by the government’s failure to intervene.”

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