NINE months after the fire at Grenfell Tower that caused the horrific deaths of 71 people, all the Tory pledges that never again would the lives of innocent families be put at risk, that all those who had suffered from this appalling fire would be helped, have turned out to be a pack of lies.
This week it was revealed that 100 households from blocks of flats next to Grenfell Tower which had to be evacuated are still in emergency, temporary accommodation. Not one has been given the permanent secure accommodation they were promised in the immediate aftermath of the inferno.
This comes just as it was revealed that over two thirds of the total number of people whose homes were destroyed or deemed unsafe to inhabit are still without permanent housing and the Tories are now saying that it is ‘unlikely’ that they will be by the date of the first anniversary of the tragedy on 14th June. This is despite a solemn promise made by Tory housing secretary Sajid Javid that everyone made homeless by the fire would be re-housed in decent accommodation.
This isn’t the only solemn promise made by the Tories that has been shredded and dumped.
This week, 50 MPs wrote to Javid damning his refusal to rule out using ‘desktop assessments’ of the safety of building materials like the cladding used at Grenfell which was responsible for the inferno after a government source confirmed to the press that the continuing use of desktop studies will be allowed.
These desktop assessments are used by manufacturers and construction companies as a way of by-passing stricter and more expensive methods of testing the fire risk of materials used in buildings.
Experts have warned that the results of these assessments, which are merely paper exercises based on whether or not these materials have caught fire in the past, are simply a means of cost-cutting that result in corners being cut and inadequate testing of potentially lethal materials.
The flammable cladding used on Grenfell had been declared ‘safe’ under these desktop studies only to fail real fire safety tests later. According to the Royal Institute of British Architects the safety of building materials should ‘be based on full-scale fire-testing and not use desktop studies’.
Against all the advice of experts and the damning reality that a cladding passed as safe was responsible for the catastrophic fire, the construction industry is still insisting that ‘the need for desktop assessments is clear, particularly where requirements are made more stringent. The lack of capacity for large scale fire tests also makes these desktop assessments necessary.’
In other words, it is too expensive for firms to carry out stringent fire tests, just as it was too expensive to ensure that fire doors fitted in the block and were supposed to be fire-resistant for 30 minutes turned out to have only held back the flames for half that time.
Just months before the Grenfell fire, Tory ministers boasted about the success of their campaign to carry out a ‘bonfire of the regulations’, and how fire regulations had been slashed, as part of their plans to completely abolish a ‘health and safety culture’ that harmed ‘money-making business’.
The deaths of 71 men women and children in the Grenfell fire has not caused any change in this drive to cut costs and ensure the profits of the construction industry at the cost of human lives. Only three tower blocks in the country out of the three hundred identified as having the same lethal cladding as Grenfell have had their cladding replaced as the Tories refuse to fund essential fire and safety work in them. In private blocks they have ruled that individual flat owners must bear the full cost of replacement.
What is clear to every worker is that their lives count for nothing to this Tory government compared to the profits of the bosses. The only way to prevent another tragedy that threatens the millions of families living in tower blocks and council estates across the UK is to demand a general strike to kick out the Tories and go forward to a workers government that places human life above all else.