PCS backs TUC Congress call for full public inquiry into Grenfell Tower fire

11 Sep 2017

The scale and severity of the Grenfell Tower fire was contributed to by cuts to the fire and rescue service, local government and other sectors, TUC Congress heard in a motion on the tragedy backed by PCS.

Motion 4, moved by Matt Wrack of the Fire Brigades Union this afternoon, called for a thorough public inquiry into the fire.

He explained to congress that firefighters entering the blaze did so knowing they were putting their lives at risk, as they could not carry out the procedures that they had trained for.

“Procedures could not be put into action, teams were split and lost,” he explained.

“They worked wonders, but they couldn’t save everyone and that weighs heavily.Questions need to be asked: how could this even happen?”

The FBU general secretary added: “The cladding was flammable - who made these decisions? We demand a thorough public inquiry, we demand it for survivors, for victims, for residents and those at the front line.”

Zita Holbourne, vice president PCS, spoke today in support of the motion and told delegates how, during meetings she attended there was “no interest, no councillors on hand and no empathy”.

“We should quite rightly be proud of the FBU and the emergency services staff,” she said, adding: “But we must also acknowledge and thank the local community”, explaining how many rallied to help victims in the immediate aftermath.

She called for a full immigration amnesty for all survivors of Grenfell, not just the 12-month amnesty currently offered.

She also called for permanant housing for those who are still displaced, for “accountability in all its forms” and further investment in social housing.

“There must never be another Grenfell,” she concluded.

Jobs cut

More than 11,000 firefighter jobs (19%) have been cut since 2010, including specialist fire safety inspectors, delegates heard, and fire safety inspections have fallen by 25% since 2010.

Chillingly, delegates also heard that warnings were given by the FBU and other unions to MPs about the dangers of cladding and other alterations to buildings.

“Congress condemns the long-term drive from central government towards deregulation and privatisation, particularly in relation to public housing and local government,” the motion set out.

Following the passing of the motion, Congress resolved to build a major campaign to ensure the public inquiry addresses the concerns of residents, survivors and those workers who responded to the fire; to highlight the impact of privatisation, casualisation and deregulation on public safety; to end and reverse the cuts to fire and rescue services and to local government; and finally, to build a movement of tenants in the public and private sector and of owner occupiers for the provision of decent and safe housing for all.

Read more news from PCS at TUC17.

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