Dockers at Stanlow refinery in Cheshire have refused to unload a shipment of Russian oil.
Unite said it had informed the owner of the Ellesmere refinery, India’s Essar Group, that its members would ‘under no circumstances unload any Russian oil regardless of the nationality of the vessel which delivers it’ in protest at the invasion of Ukraine.
It comes as a tanker sailing under a German flag and understood to be carrying Russian oil was heading for the terminal.
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A ban on Russian vessels introduced by transport secretary Grant Shapps this week does not cover cargo.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Unite has today contacted Essar who operate the Stanlow oil refinery to inform the company that due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Unite workers at the facility will under no circumstances unload any Russian oil regardless of the nationality of the vessel. Unite urges Grant Shapps to close this loophole immediately.”
The action comes after the trade union Unison said two gas-carrying tankers, the Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke, have been diverted from the Isle of Grain in Kent.
The union’s head of energy Matt Lay said: “These tankers appear to have gone away for now, but the cargo could be back on other ships within days.
“Transport Secretary Grant Shapps and other ministers must deal with this issue properly.
Even ships with a clear Russian connection are causing confusion and could slip through the net to reach a UK port.
“Department for Transport rules only cover the ownership and operators of vessels, not the cargo. The Government also needs to clarify what it means by operators.
“The Boris Vilkitsky was chartered by a company based in Singapore, but majority Russian-owned. It’s not at all clear whether it’s covered by the ban.
“The Transport Secretary claims all ships with Russian connections are now barred from UK ports, but companies are free to get around the rules by hiring ships from other countries to import Russian goods.
The Government should act right away if these sanctions are to be fit for purpose.”
A Government spokesperson said: “UK Government ministers have signed legislation banning all ships that are Russian owned, operated, controlled, registered or flagged from entering British ports. It is mandatory for all ports and harbors to follow this legislation and the Government will support all ports in exercising their responsibilities.
“We will continue to isolate (Vladimir) Putin through every means as he carries out these illegal and inhumane action.”
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