A giant rat was the first sight that those going to the Housing 2013, social housing conference at Manchester Central (GMex) came across this morning, as campaigners against blacklisting in the construction industry targeted Kier, one of the companies sponsoring the event.
"We don't believe that any public construction contracts should be given to companies that are involved in blacklisting, and Kier is one of the companies involved in the Cross Rail blacklisting dispute" says Cathy Miller of UNITE the union.
While Blacklisting was made illegal in 2009, UNITE still states that the practice goes on and believes it has evidence to prove that three companies - Kier, BAM and Ferrovial - are involved in blacklisting on the Cross Raid Project in London, the biggest construction project in Europe.
"Many people think that it's a thing of the past but right now in our society blacklisting is still an issue; it still goes on, only covertly" Cathy adds "Our campaign is to get these companies to sit down with UNITE with a view to ending this dispute and ending blacklisting. It's that deep rooted in the industry, it's proving difficult to bring to an end - but ordinary working class people are suffering because of it. We're here today to highlight the issues around Kier which is a sponsor of this conference."
Many Salford people are involved in the anti-blacklisting campaign, which saw George Tapp, trade unionist and secretary of Salford Pensioners Association, recently get deliberately run over on a protest outside the BAM construction site that is building Manchester City's new training ground in East Manchester.
Many at today's demo sent their regards and good wishes to George, who is recovering at home in Ordsall from two broken legs and a fractured jaw. The Salford Star has contacted Greater Manchester Police to see why the motorist who ran George over has still not been charged. GMP has, so far, refused to comment.
For full background on the George Tapp story and background on blacklisting see previous Salford Star articles – click here and click here
See also related Salford Star artcles on the day's protests: Bedroom Tax demo - click here : Teachers strike - click here : Civil Servants rally - click here.