Nearly 1,000 workers have been ‘kicked in the teeth’ by the government’s decision not to apply for state aid from the European Commission, Unite the union has said.

Unite assistant general secretary Tony Burke said today (Friday June 15): “If Coryton had been a bank, you can be sure that ministers would have stepped in with financial assistance immediately.

“This government operates double standards – it fawns before the financial elite that has brought the economy to its knees, but adopts a hard and heartless stance to working people and the local economy in the Thames estuary.

“We are not saying that that state aid should be open-ended for years ahead, but as a short-term measure until a new owner can be found to take over Coryton as a going concern. This is a better option than throwing people onto the dole.

“Unite calls on the government to re-think its decision on state aid. There is also the issue of safeguarding the energy supplies to the UK when there are concerns about the future global provision of energy.

“The coalition is abandoning skilled workers and their families; and its decision flies in the face of what they have been saying about the importance of manufacturing.

“The employees have worked hard to save the refinery when it got into trouble, for which they were publicly praised by the government. Now they are being kicked in the teeth and the community around Canvey Island is being devastated.”

A public meeting has been called at the Pitsea Leisure Centre, Northlands Pavement, Basildon, Essex SS13 3DU for 7.30pm, Monday 18 June to rally support to keep the refinery open.

Unite has repeatedly 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 viable buyer can be found.

The latest twist in the Coryton story came in the week that Unite said there was ‘a possible buyer’ for the plant, and urged the government and the administrators Price Waterhouse Coopers to open talks with the possible new owner urgently.

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