‘71 DEAD. And still no arrests? How come?’ read three large billboards on trucks demanding justice following the Grenfell Tower fire. They were driven through London by campaigners from 7:00am on Thursday. The billboards hit the nail on the head.
Matt Wrack, General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union spoke at a meeting by the Grenfell Tower at the beginning of the month. He said, ‘The big criminals and not just the little criminals need to be brought to justice … 71 people are dead and yet nobody has been arrested for it and questions have been asked about why nobody has been arrested for it and people have started to wonder whether anyone will be arrested for it – because this was a crime.
‘This was an atrocity. It wasn’t an atrocity caused by war or terrorism. If it had been caused by war or terrorism, I think the reaction would have been different. This is people who were killed in their own home and questions have to be asked about how and why it happened.’ The ‘hows and whys’ have, however, only just started to come to light, namely ‘light-touch regulation’ championed by the Tory party. This means that buildings were put up fast and cheap with fire safety thrown to the wind.
Meanwhile, the same Tory government is responsible for stripping the fire service to the bone. Under the last Tory London Mayor, Boris Johnson, 11 fire stations were shut, dozens of fire appliances taken out of service and hundreds of firefighter jobs axed. In Hereford and Worcestershire, the Fire Authority has threatened to sack every single firefighter in two weeks’ time and then re-employ them, imposing a new contract which forces them to work longer hours.
Meanwhile, Devon and Somerset Fire Rescue Service is proposing a five-year plan which falsely claims, that 70% of fires can be dealt with by only two firefighters to justify fire engines attending incidents with less than the current safe crew minimum of five firefighters.
The Grenfell Fire was a result of the class war to maximise profits that the ruling class is waging against the working class. It is continuing. The Tory war on the fire service is part of their war on the working class. This war is driving up joblessness, homelessness and early deaths, with worse to come as austerity measures are intensified.
The Grenfell inferno survivors and the masses of the working class are clear that the fire was the result of criminal activities. The Tenants Management Organisation (TMO) systematically ignored the warnings from residents that Grenfell Tower was a fire trap. No one from the TMO has been arrested.
The building contractors – Rydon – fitted cheap flammable cladding onto the exterior of Grenfell Tower. They have not been arrested; they have in fact been rewarded. They have been given a new contract … they are now the estate management of the Whittington Hospital in Archway, north London.
No one from the council has been arrested, despite the fact that eight months after the fire, hundreds of survivors are still languishing in temporary accommodation, despite the promise of fast-tracking them into new homes. And of course there is the Tory government itself. It is stripping the fire service to the bone, while encouraging building on the cheap. 300 tower blocks around the country have the same flammable cladding as the Grenfell Tower. The Tory government has refused to hand the local councils a single penny to make the buildings safe.
For the first time, last Wednesday, Manchester and London held silent marches in tandem. The fight for justice for every single man, woman and child who died in the Grenfell Tower and for the survivors is now on. With tens of thousands of empty properties in Kensington, only a handful of survivors have been permanently rehoused. They are not a priority for the ruling class!
The only way to secure justice for Grenfell is for the entire working class to mobilise to bring the government down and bring in a workers’ government that will put the guilty on trial, house all of the homeless and expropriate the bosses and the bankers to put an end to the guilty capitalist system. This is what has to be done and with every day that passes the working class is becoming more and more ready to do it!