Hundreds of redundancy notices are going out at the Coryton oil refinery in Essex.
A consortium led by Shell plans to turn the refinery into an oil import terminal with a much smaller workforce.
The government has refused to intevene to save the plant.
“It’s absolutely outrageous—and the government has abdicated its responsibility,” said Russ Ball from the workers’ Unite union.
“They’ve told us it’s not all bad news because 50 jobs have been created. It’s crass, insensitive and shows the fantasy world they live in.”
The refinery will be wound down over the coming months. Coryton workers have vowed to fight on to save their jobs.