FBU response to Grenfell Tower Inquiry Phase 1 report

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary:

“The Inquiry’s interim report must finally be a turning point for fire safety in the UK. Warning after warning from previous fires were ignored; central government must now take responsibility for ensuring that recommendations are applied nationwide, not just in London; this has never simply been a matter for the London Fire Brigade. That change can only be achieved by establishing a new, credible and accountable body responsible for fire and rescue service policy in the UK.

“Firefighters stand in solidarity with the bereaved, survivors and residents and share their grief for the lives lost that night. They have an absolute right to ask difficult questions. However, we have said from the start that the order of issues to be investigated has been entirely wrong. The Inquiry’s structure prioritises scrutiny of firefighters, who did everything that they could to save lives, over investigating the critical issues of public safety that led to the fire and caused it to spread in such a disastrous manner.

“Before any firefighter arrived that night, Grenfell Tower was a death trap. Firefighters that night acted bravely in impossible circumstances, many of them repeatedly risking their own lives to save others. We welcome that this is reflected in the Inquiry’s report.

“Firefighters and control room staff are, as with any profession, only able to operate within their training and procedures. It is clear that no one had planned or prepared for an incident like Grenfell. The planning by fire service policy makers did not take account of a fire where compartmentation failed on such a scale.

“It’s disgraceful that over two years since the fire and there has been no major review or assessment of the Stay Put policy. This could have been done within months of the fire and we have raised this with government ministers on numerous occasions. Concerns about stay put policy were raised with central government years before Grenfell, the government must stop dragging its heels and recognise the urgent need to act.

“There was no other evacuation policy available to firefighters on the night, the report rightly recognises this. Those on the ground believed that a whole-scale evacuation would have been unsafe, potentially causing further fatalities.

“We strongly refute the report’s assertion that it would have been possible or safe to evacuate more than 150 people via a narrow smoke-logged stairwell with just 30 firefighters. There is no evidence to suggest that this was possible. It is particularly alarming that the Inquiry failed on this issue to seek the advice of its own expert advisor on firefighting matters. There is therefore currently no way of knowing if evacuation could have saved more lives.

“We are disappointed that the report makes no reference to the vast additional resources needed to implement its recommendations. It’s time for government to provide national leadership, to properly fund and coordinate fire and rescue services and ensure these urgent matters of public safety are addressed.

“The true culprits of the fire are those who wrapped the building in flammable cladding, who gutted the UK’s fire safety regime, who ignored the warnings from previous fires, and who did not hear the pleas of a community worried for their safety. We will be watching phase two of the Inquiry closely to ensure they are held to account. But we cannot wait for years for the Inquiry to conclude. Change is needed now.”

CWU reacts to High Court Judgement

The CWU is extremely disappointed at the ruling and we have no doubt our members and representatives will feel the same way. Following 18 months of negotiations, including external mediation, the company’s actions are nothing more than a desperate delaying tactic from a board who are increasingly out of touch with the views of its workforce.

Legal proceedings and Royal Mail’s court room politics will not solve the company’s problems. The union has nothing to fear from mediation and unless there is significant movement from the company on a range of issues and a satisfactory agreement is concluded, the union will be calling further strike action once the mediation process has been completed. Furthermore, we will not allow Royal Mail to string out the process beyond the minimum required period.

CWU General Secretary Dave Ward said “The company are deluded if they believe their court room politics will resolve this dispute. Instead the company’s actions will have the complete opposite effect. Postal Workers’ attitude towards the company will harden and it makes us more determined than ever to defend our members pensions, jobs, service and achieve our objectives.”

“Unless the company significantly shifts its position on a range of issues and we can quickly conclude a good agreement for our members then strike action is inevitable. “

“We walked into the court today with a massive 90% yes vote for strike action – we walked out of the court today with a massive 90% vote for strike action. We want an agreement and will comply with the injunction to undertake further external mediation. But sooner rather than later Royal Mail Group will have to confront the harsh reality that they are completely out of touch with the views of its workforce.“

CWU Deputy General Secretary Terry Pullinger said “We saw today that Royal Mail Group would rather spend time, money and resources playing politics than engaging with this union to reach an agreement. Our members are square behind the CWU and from this moment we are putting Royal Mail on notice of further action should the mediation fail. Let me be clear – we will not stand by and see this once great institution run into the ground. Our members will stand up and save it by whatever means are necessary.”

“We will use the mediation process to seek an agreement but also to galvanise support amongst our members and the public. Be in no doubt though, if Royal Mail Group are not serious about reaching an agreement we will not hesitate to call strike action immediately after the mediation period closes.”

#mcstrike: The start of something big

On Tuesday, McDonald’s workers took strike action to demand a fair wage and a union to represent them. Thousands of supporters backed their call and made sure McDonald’s know they’re up against a powerful movement. 

In more than 35 locations across the country, supporters organised McStrike solidarity actions, speaking to the public about the campaign. Their conversations are critical in building public support and putting pressure on McDonald’s.

And you couldn’t pick up a newspaper yesterday without reading about McStrike. There was coverage in The Mirror, The Guardian, The iThe Daily Mail and many more. 

And this is just the beginning. McDonald’s will not back down easily, which is why your support is so important. Our movement will grow and these workers will strike again.

We will fight until these workers, and workers everywhere, get what’s fair.

This campaign will be long, so anything you can chip in will help our movement win.

Chip in to support McDonald’s workers and the McStrike

RMT campaign against cuts to London Overground ticket office hours

The RMT is currently campaigning against planned cuts to ticket office opening hours across the London Overground network.

Last year, the operator of London Overground, Arriva Rail London (owned by the German State Railways) planned to close 51 ticket offices on the network. Because of the level of opposition from passengers (there were around 6000 responses opposing the proposals), the Mayor of London announced in April 2019 he would halt the closures.

However, London Overground is now planning to cut ticket office opening hours across the network to the bare minimum – effectively achieving its original goal by stealth. These plans amount to closures in all but name – many stations are facing cuts of 80% or more compared to their current hours.

If these cuts go ahead, the RMT firmly believes that:

  • Stations will become less safe, secure and accessible
  • Passengers will not be able to access all ticket types and services at machines
  • Many people, including disabled and elderly passengers, would struggle to purchase tickets and get advice and assistance at the station
  • It will be easier for London Overground to close more ticket offices in the future.

The RMT has urged the Mayor to use his powers to intervene and halt these damaging cuts, but to date, this has not happened.

Therefore, the RMT has convened a protest at which we will be calling for the Mayor, TfL and London Overground to halt these proposals.

The Demonstration is taking place at 9am on Wednesday 20th November, outside City Hall, London, SE1 2AA.

The RMT has already held a number of successful action days at London Overground stations, distributing postcards for passengers to send to the Mayor, opposing the cuts.

We are grateful for the support already given to the campaign by a number of Trades Councils and anything further you could do to support the campaign and/or the demonstration would be much appreciated.

If you are able to distribute leaflets and postcards locally, please email Sophie Ward (s.ward@rmt.org.uk) and we will arrange for these to be sent to you.

TUC calls for emergency funding for flood affected areas

Working families must not pay price for climate change, says TUC

Commenting on the ongoing flooding in South Yorkshire, TUC Regional Secretary Bill Adams said:

“The government is treating this flooding as if it is a normal event.

“But try telling that to families who can’t afford home insurance and who will be left destitute.

“Instead of messing around with a mop, the prime minister should be taking this crisis seriously and providing emergency funding for devastated communities.

“We need a government that will put working families first and invest properly in tackling climate change.”

Coca-Cola violates workers’ rights around the world

Coca-Cola continues to violate the fundamental rights of workers in Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland and the USA.

The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF) has launched a global online campaign to protest this — which we encourage you to support.

In Haiti, Coca-Cola’s bottler continues to systematically deny workers their right to form and be represented by a union.

In Indonesia, Coca-Cola’s bottler pursues its long running attack on the rights of independent, democratic trade unions.

In Ireland, Coca-Cola closed two of its directly owned concentrate plants, both of which were strongly unionised, and shifted production to the remaining plant in Ballina, where it refuses to engage in collective bargaining with the union.

And finally, in the USA the company’s bottler spent more than $330,000 hiring a union-busting consultant firm to persuade workers at its Greenfield bottling plant to not join the union.

Please show your support for the IUF campaign by sending a clear message to Coca-Cola CEO and Chairman James Quincey, expressing your outrage over these ongoing human rights violations and demanding that the company act to remedy them. 

Please share this message with your friends, family and fellow union members.

Coca-Cola workers fighting for their rights in Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, and the USA still need your support

Coca-Cola continues to violate the fundamental rights of workers in Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland and the USA.
In Haiti Coke’s bottler La Brasserie de la Couronne continues to systematically deny workers their right to form and be represented by a union, SYTBRACOUR.
Haiti is a dangerous place to live and to work. Companies should, at a minimum, be alert to this situation and exercise maximum due diligence. In July 2019, a Coca-Cola truck driver was shot in his vehicle while at work. The Coca-Cola Company has made no meaningful independent investigation of this killing, choosing instead to rely on a version of events provided by their local bottler, which sought to shift blame onto the driver. Subsequent IUF investigations into this case have exonerated the driver and exposed a callous disregard for the truth on the part of the Coca-Cola bottler and The Coca-Cola Company.

In Indonesia Coca-Cola bottler Amatil pursues its long running attack on the rights of independent, democratic trade unions.

In Ireland, The Coca-Cola Company closed two of its directly owned concentrate plants, both of which were strongly unionized, and shifted production to the remaining plant in Ballina, where it refuses to engage in collective bargaining with the IUF-affiliated SIPTU.

In the USA the Company’s bottler spent more than 330,000.00 US dollars hiring a union-busting consultant firm to persuade workers at its Greenfield bottling plant to not join the RWDSU/UFCW.

Please show your support for these workers and the fight for rights in the Coca-Cola system.

CLICK HERE to send a message to Coca-Cola’s CEO and Chairman James Quincey, expressing your outrage over these ongoing human rights violations and demanding the Company act to remedy them. Your name will also be added to a petition that will be delivered to The Coca-Cola Company.

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