THE GRENFELL Tower disaster was a turning point for the working class where the callous and ruthless nature of the ruling class was exposed for everyone to see.
The scrapping of regulations and inspections proved that the attitude of the ruling class towards the working class is, ‘Let them burn, let them starve.’
This attitude is again proven by the fact that there are potential Grenfells everywhere. 46 council-owned high-rise blocks around the UK have exactly the same combination of flammable cladding and insulation as Grenfell. A further 173 blocks owned by housing associations and private landlords have also been equipped with the same combination.
We now know that tower blocks around the country are built in the same way as Ronan Point where in 1968 there was a terrible disaster: after a gas explosion the tower block’s floors collapsed one after the other like dominoes.
The residents of Ledbury Estate in Peckham now know that they they have been living in a potential gas bomb. The Labour council, instead of re-housing them, has just turned the gas off so they can’t cook or wash and told them you must ‘bid for properties like everyone else’.
Meanwhile, inflation has soared with clothes, food, fares and other essentials rising by over 3.5% while wages are being driven down.
A decade of austerity cuts has actually driven life expectancy down, while the Tories are driving the pension age up, so it’s a case of work till you drop.
Foodbanks across the country are running dry as families desperately try to stop their children from going hungry in the summer holidays.
This is while the bosses’ organisation, the CIPD, (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) declared unemployment is at a 30-year low. This is because zero-hours contracts are rife. The CIPD revealed that on average 24 people apply for every low-paid job. Bosses are using this to drive wages down and the CIPD says they will be driven down further.
It is zero-hours contracts, zero rights, zero future: this is the vision the Tories have for a ‘modern’ hire-and-fire workforce, where the Uber model is brought into every field of work.
Something must be done about this situation and it has started to be done by the working class.
The BA mixed cabin crew are on strike, Serco hospital workers have come out on strike, the rail guards have been striking for well over a year, and Bank of England staff have come out, as have the Birmingham bin men. Now the TUC leadership must be made to act!
The crisis that the working class faces is that there is a crisis of its leadership. It is saddled with a TUC leadership which is completely tied to capitalism and does rotten deals with the bosses and the government in order to call off strikes if it can’t prevent them, rather than lead them by calling a general strike.
At British Airways, it was the Unite union which allowed the workforce to be split in the first place. The deal agreed in 2010 by the Unite leadership was that the older workers kept their pay and conditions, while new workers joined on cheap labour contracts.
At Bart’s Hospital Trust in east London, the cleaners, porters, security and catering staff, also in Unite, have been out on strike for one week, two weeks, then began a new set of strikes yesterday.
Firstly, their sister union Unison has refused to ballot and join the strike, meaning their members are crossing the picket lines. Now, just as the Serco workers are determined to take their strike forward, the Unite leadership call a ‘pause for peace’. But there is no peace for the Serco workers.
The only way forward is to call these leaders and the TUC to account. We urge all workers and youth to join the Young Socialists lobby of the TUC annual conference in Brighton on Monday September 11, where every union leader that goes into the conference must be told to move a resolution to call a general strike, or face removal and replacement.
TUC delegates must insist on general strike action to bring down this weak and miserable minority Tory government and replace it with a workers government and socialism!