Up to 100 members of the Unite union, representing construction workers from across the north west of England, demonstrated through the streets of Manchester at the start of this year.
There were 77 fatalities in the building industry during 2007 – a new record for one of the most dangerous, but fastest growing, industries. Unite officials pointed out that without further legislation 2008 could be another tragic year.
The demonstration demanded national agreements over pay and Unite representatives also called for a collective agreement to cover the building of the Olympic games site.
Speakers explained that without such an agreement, the potential for a racist backlash against migrant workers working at below union rates was very real.
This sentiment was echoed in the calls to both build union strength on sites across the country and involve more migrant workers and casual labourers in the union.