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TUC leader Frances O'Grady salutes 'bravery and professionalism' of firefighters

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady paid tribute yesterday to the “bravery and professionalism” of firefighters and control room staff who “saved scores of lives” in the Grenfell disaster.

She told Fire Brigades Union (FBU) delegates that they deserve answers as much as those who lost loved ones in the tower-block blaze nearly a year ago.

“We all need to know how 72 people could lose their lives like this, in London, in the 21st century,” Ms O’Grady said.

“We need to know how it is that working-class lives could be treated as so cheap.

“What we already know is that the building was clad in dangerous materials, apparently to cover up what wealthy neighbours regarded as an eyesore. And – in what is a sick irony – the colour of that cladding was called champagne.”

The TUC leader insisted that the public inquiry into the fire must be “the most forensic investigation possible,” one that listens to local people and FBU members.

She called on it to properly address what happens when public housing is deregulated and privatised, when corners are cut and health and safety trivialised.

“You know, given the Eton code of dishonour that dominates British elites, I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone tried to pin the blame on firefighters,” Ms O’Grady said, “just as we saw some of them turn on firefighters in the wake of the Manchester attacks.

“In my view, those who criticise FBU members are not fit to lace your boots.

“We need to hold to account those who are really responsible, whether that’s corporations, regulators, the government, the landlord or the boss.

“So, one year on, we send our solidarity and support to the community, reaffirm our determination to secure truth and justice for everyone affected and recommit our absolute resolve: never, ever, again.”

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