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Unite at the TUC - Lessons from Grenfell going unheeded

JANUARY 21, 2020

Unite delegate and brother of a fire fighter James Mitchell spoke in support of the FBU motion to TUC , Grenfell Tower - Never Again highlighting the union’s calls for an immediate ban on the use of combustible materials on high rise blocks.
In a poignant speech, he said that lessons from the Grenfell Tower disaster had still not been learned. He said, “Congress, we lost members of our Unite family at Grenfell and we continue to share the pain of the community and of our FBU comrades who rushed to their aid. Even as recently as yesterday, 125 firefighters have been saving lives at Worcester Park – our solidarity is with them. 
“Our movement is built on the belief that an injury to one is the concern of all. I am proud that my union has risen to that ideal. Over the past two years Unite ensured that our members were registered as Core Participants to the Grenfell Inquiry.” 

Dangerous cladding

“Just as the warnings of Grenfell residents were ignored before the fire, so the lessons that should have been taken from their deaths are going unheeded. It is staggering that two years later at least 2,000 public buildings continue to be wrapped in the same dangerous cladding.

“The bitter truth remains that Grenfell was not some act of god – a tragedy which couldn’t have been prevented or foreseen. It was the result of decisions taken by people in authority. By people prepared for others to shoulder the risk.

“By people – and out of respect for the dead I will not mince my words – by people who are guilty and must be dragged from the shadows into the light of justice.”

Mitchell added that for justice to be done for the victims of the fire “each and every individual in the chain of responsibility – from ministers downwards” must be held to account. Two years may have passed but we have not forgotten and we will not forget.”

Grenfell Tower – Never Again

Congress is appalled that two years after the Grenfell Tower fire, 300 residential and public buildings are still wrapped in the same ACM cladding and at least another 1,700 hospitals, care homes, schools and high rise residential buildings still have combustible cladding on them.

Congress is dismayed that the Grenfell Tower Inquiry announced it will delay its phase 1 report and will not begin phase 2 until later this year.

Congress notes the Metropolitan Police announcement that prosecutions of those responsible for the fire will be delayed until after the public inquiry.
Congress is appalled that the politicians and businesses responsible for a system, which enabled such a devastating fire, have not been held to account.
Congress applauds the work of the bereaved, survivors and residents from the Grenfell community, who have campaigned resolutely for justice.

Congress supports the FBU’s campaign Grenfell: Never Again and endorses its demands:

i. the removal of all combustible cladding and a ban on the use of all combustible materials in such circumstances
ii. a national review of the stay put policy, involving the FBU and representatives of tenants’ organisations from across the country
iii. the strengthening of tenants’ rights and support for a democratic and independent tenant organisation
iv. new national accountability structures for the fire and rescue service and for the fire safety regime (to tackle the power of corporate interests)
v. an increase in the number of trained and specialist fire safety officers in fire and rescue services.

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