AN INVESTIGATION by Sky News into the role of the firms that produce the plastic used to cover the exterior of Grenfell Tower has thrown a light into the complicity of these companies and the Tories in the death of 71 people in the inferno that engulfed the block.
he plastic-filled cladding, the cause of the ferocious and uncontrolled spread of the fire, the investigation has revealed was not just widely known to be dangerous but warnings about its flammability had been revealed years before the fire.
These warnings were not just ignored by the plastics companies but they did everything in their power to silence anyone who questioned whether it was safe to use plastic insulation on buildings.
According to Sky reporters: ‘Time after time we were told the plastic insulation industry was highly litigious, that speaking out about its fire safety was impossible’. They quote a former government scientist who had been threatened with being sued who told them: ‘If you’ve got no (legal) insurance you lose your house. It was a worrying time and they were quite famous for it – people knew this was the way they reacted.’
An insurance company, that in 2013 posted a video on YouTube showing plastic insulation panels burning much more intensely in real life than was claimed in the official tests carried out by the industry, was immediately threatened with legal action and forced to remove any reference to the manufacturer of the panel they tested.
The report reveals that in the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower inferno, six lobby groups working for the European plastics industry ‘complained in a letter to the respected publishers of a peer-reviewed paper on the dangers of toxic smoke from burning plastic insulation written by chemistry and fire safety expert Professor Anna Stec at the University of Central Lancashire. “We request that the article is withdrawn,” it said. “The consequences (…) are enormous and could well lead to significant consequential losses.” It ended: “We feel you should consider this very seriously”.’
All these companies cared about was ‘significant’ losses – only profit is important, the fact that 71 people died the most horrific deaths counts for nothing to the capitalist class. Naturally the Tories are completely on-board with an outlook that treats ordinary working people like animals to be shut away in lethal tower blocks.
They, too, are only concerned that nothing should stand in the way of these companies making as much profit as possible, regardless of the risk to human life and certainly regardless of anything so frivolous as health and safety rules.
Just months before Grenfell, Tory ministers boasted about how fire regulations in housing had been slashed as part of their plans to abolish a ‘health and safety culture’ that harmed ‘money-making businesses’.
As the Sky report shows, it didn’t stop with just tearing up previous rules about safety inspections. The Tories actually brought in the plastic insulation industry to draft the rules on fitting these products to millions of buildings around the country.
Sky reports that the lobby group for the industry advertised ‘that they are “influencing UK and local government, specifying authorities, relevant approval and certification bodies,” and have “high level involvement in the drafting and regular revision of British and European standards (and) the Building Regulations.” Its members are promised the “opportunity to influence government bodies and NGOs” and “direct input into relevant British Standards committees”.’
The Tories have not just had a bonfire of the safety laws, they have invited in the very companies responsible for the cheap plastic cladding that burnt out Grenfell Tower to write the rules allowing them to put the same product up in every block and home across the country.
The appalling tragedy at Grenfell Tower was the inevitable result of a Tory government working hand in hand with these companies to shred anything that stands in the way of profit, regardless of the cost in human lives.
This is a government that must be brought down by workers demanding the TUC organise a general strike to kick them out and bring in a workers government that will expropriate all industry and the banks and advance to socialism.