Russian tankers heading for Kent must be stopped, says UNISON  

Staff at Grain LNG against unloading cargoes from the Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke but fear for jobs

The government must immediately intervene to stop two Russian tankers – containing enough liquid gas to supply the UK for up to 12 days – from docking in Kent at the weekend, UNISON has urged today (Wednesday).

The Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke are bound for Grain LNG* with plans to unload on Sunday according to UNISON, which represents around 200 workers at the Isle of Grain importation terminal owned by National Grid.

This is despite a law passed yesterday banning ships with any Russian connection from all UK ports, says the union. UNISON says a loophole has left open the possibility that the Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke could still dock and unload their cargo.

UNISON is calling on transport secretary Grant Shapps to confirm that the ban applies to these two vessels, and that both will be prohibited from berthing at the Thames Estuary site, which is 30km from London.

Staff working at Grain LNG are angry that they might be asked to unload the ships’ cargoes. UNISON says they fear losing their jobs if they refuse once the Boris Vilkitsky and the Fedor Litke have anchored off the Isle of Grain.

Commenting on the union’s urgent plea to the transport secretary, UNISON head of energy Matt Lay said: “The law passed speedily yesterday should have made the Boris Vilkitsky and Fedor Litke turn back. But both vessels still seem to be very much Kent-bound.

“Grant Shapps must send these two ships packing. He needs to make it clear that all Russian ships are banned from every UK port and terminal.

“The workers at the National Grid terminal don’t want to touch the cargo given the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine.

“These staff are determined to show their support for the Ukrainian people and uphold the sanctions imposed against Russia.”

Notes to editors:
– *Grain LNG is the largest terminal in Europe for importing liquefied natural gas (LNG). It is situated on a 600-acre site on the Isle of Grain near Rochester in Kent.  – UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.     

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