Today is the third anniversary of the horrific Grenfell Tower that took 72 lives – although many local people still believe it took far more – and the government has still not taken the actions required to ensure that such a disaster never takes place again.
Theresa May’s promise to rehome survivors within weeks took years and the Tories buried any other meaningful action under a meandering enquiry that has lasted so long it was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. But it is not merely slowness to act – in 2018 the Tories quietly decided not to ban flammable cladding from use on residential buildings, leaving thousands of families still living with its continual deadly danger.
In fact, the only changes the Tories – who have unforgivably tried to shift blame for the Grenfell deaths onto firefighters – made to fire safety regulations in the wake of the Grenfell fire made them worse, according to the leading fire safety expert who was begging the authorities to ban and remove cladding three years before the blaze took place.
The consequences of those decisions were at least one further, luckily less deadly, cladding fire in a residential block.
Union Unite has been at the forefront of supporting survivors and the families of those killed in the blaze. At the beginning of this year, inquiry panelling Benita Mehra stepped down after it was revealed that an organisation she ran had received more than £70,000 from the firm that installed the cladding on the tower.
Although the media ignored the fact entirely, a key factor in Mehra’s withdrawal was Unite’s threat of a judicial review if she did not step down – and Unite’s assistant general secretary for legal affairs, Howard Beckett, has marked this third anniversary with a summary of the continuing that has been largely ignored by the media:
Yet again, it is unions standing up for the people while the Establishment ignores their hardships and risks.
As always, the SKWAWKBOX stands in solidarity with the people of Grenfell and demands action, not just lip service, from the government to give them justice and to ensure that such a needless tragedy never happens again.
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