The terrible events at Grenfell Tower in West London provided yet another reminder of the heroism of the people who work in our emergency services.
The dedication and bravery of the first responders and the emergency services shone through as the hours wore on.
The response from local and wider communities reminds us again that most people are caring and compassionate – despite what some of our media would have us believe.
We are likely to hear more in the coming days and weeks from public servants who are not in the spotlight but whose knowledge, expertise and skills will help us understand – and put right – what went wrong.
Prospect is unique in representing many of these unseen and unsung heroes. For example our members in the Building Research Establishment will no doubt be called on to help with the investigation.
BRE has world-class testing and research facilities and a 50-year history of fire investigations and expert witness services.
The Health and Safety Laboratory in Buxton provides large-scale testing and evaluation for fires and explosions.
Our members in the London Fire Brigade, and more broadly the Association of Principal Fire Officers, will have experience and wisdom that they will no doubt be more than willing to share for the common good.
Regulation provides the basis for civil societies to function on behalf of citizens. Societies need rules and regulations to prevent catastrophic events like Grenfell Tower.
But they also need people to inspect and enforce those rules – and take action when they are ignored.
That’s why we need our civil and public servants – who by the way don’t all wear bowler hats and work in Whitehall.
Most of our members in public services are not allowed to speak to the media. But, as their trade union, we are their voice and we can speak up on their behalf.
Our message is not complicated – if we value public services, we need to value public servants.
This is not the time for political point scoring. But politicians are quick to praise public servants in times of crisis. But not so vocal in speaking up against government policies that have left our members worse off now than they were ten years ago.
That’s why we are seeking an urgent meeting with the Cabinet Office to press home the message that the government must abandon its public sector pay policy – and look at staffing levels.
Our members work in the public interest to defend, protect and enhance quality of life for all of us. I think it’s time they got the recognition they deserve.