Socialist Worker

Hundreds join Grenfell Silent Walk as safety work on blocks slows down

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2637

Part of the Grenfell Silent Walk in London on Monday

Part of the Grenfell Silent Walk in London on Monday (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and their supporters took part in the first monthly Silent Walk of 2019 on Monday evening.

At least 72 people died in the fire in June 2017. Up to 500 people attended the walk to remember those who died and to demand more action.

Moyra Samuels from the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign said, “It’s been 19 months since the fire and still the community is asking what does justice look like, because there is little evidence of it at the moment.

“We want to see recommendations come out of the first stage of the inquiry. People here need some commitment there’s going to be a change.”

People marched against the indifference fostered by the Tories and the mainstream media.

Kerry escaped from the sixth floor of the tower on the night of the fire. She slammed the Tories for making people wait so long to be rehoused (see below).

Over 270 privately-owned blocks have been found to have Grenfell-style cladding on them. Of these, just 29 have had work to remove cladding completed.

Central government and bosses should pay for the work to be carried out. The law allowed Grenfell?type cladding to be applied to buildings, and there is evidence that the government was aware that it was flammable.

Despite this, Tory minister Nick Bourne said last week, “The ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the cladding comes off those [blocks] rests with local authorities.”

Cladding

It’s proof, if it were needed, that the Tories are firmly on the side of landlords, ­building owners and bosses. Social housing blocks with Grenfell-type cladding on them are being treated more quickly. But the pace is still too slow.

Over 18 months after the fire, just 37 of 159 blocks have had work completed. Over 40 blocks have yet to see work to remove cladding begin.

In total, 437 residential blocks and public buildings over 18 metres in height have been found to have Grenfell?type cladding.

Just 67 of these have had work to remove the cladding completed.

And analysis by the Inside Housing magazine shows that the pace of work has slowed down.

Housing campaigner Glyn Robbins argued for more national trade unions and individual branches to back the monthly silent walks and turn out delegations.

“The responsibility for keeping Grenfell in the public eye is ours—the labour movement,” he said. “Trade unions especially have not done enough.

“Every time I’ve been to this march trade union banners have been noticeable by their absence, with some notable exceptions.

“The call needs to go out from trade union leaders to their members.”

Marchers in London remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire

Marchers in London remember the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire (Pic: Guy Smallman)


 

Survivor speaks out - ‘It doesn’t feel real what happened to us’

Kerry was on Monday’s Silent Walk. She escaped from the sixth floor of Grenfell Tower on the night of the fire.

She has only just been permanently rehoused.

“It’s not on. People should not have to wait after what we’ve been through,” she said.

“People ask me when I’ll stop coming to the Silent Walks and I tell them I don’t know because it’s about remembering the people who died. I don’t want to forget.

“I’m trying to get on with my life. I go to counselling once a week.

“It’s not just the physical impact of what happened, it’s the emotional side too.

“I lost a lot of friends in the fire. You form these connections when you live somewhere for 18 years.

“On the night I wanted to go up to the next floor and get my friend Debbie out, but I couldn’t.

“It still feels like a dream. It doesn’t feel real what happened to us.”


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.