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FBU Conference 2022 TUC general secretary slams Tories' attempts to evade responsibility for Grenfell

FRANCES O’GRADY condemned Tory attempts to evade any responsibility for the Grenfell Tower fire yesterday, saying that the disaster was “no act of God” but was driven by deregulation. 

Addressing delegates at the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) annual conference for the last time as TUC general secretary, Ms O’Grady slammed the government’s contributions to the ongoing inquiry into the June 2017 tragedy. 

She blasted former communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles for telling an inquiry session last month that he was too busy to answer more questions about the west London tower block blaze which killed 72 people.

“I don’t know what this man has running through his veins, but whatever it is, it’s icy cold,” she said, to rapturous applause from FBU members in Brighton’s Grand Hotel.

“This was the same Eric Pickles who [in 2013] stripped away section 20 of the London Building Act, fatally weakening fire safety requirements for high buildings, yet he had the sheer arrogance to say that this disaster was nothing to do with deregulation.

“It’s time to set the record straight, because Grenfell was no act of God.

“It was driven by deregulation, accelerated by neglect and powered by austerity.”

The general secretary, who plans to step down at the end of the year after nearly a decade at the top of the union confederation, said cost-cutting is “no way to run a fire service.”

Tory ministers must raise much-needed funds for public services by taxing “wealth, not workers” via an equalisation of income and capital gains taxes, Ms O’Grady added. 

She urged FBU members to attend the TUC’s new deal for workers rally in London on June 18, saying: “Together, united, we will win.”

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