Unite London & Eastern members, mainly from our Construction sector, demonstrated at two separate locations in central London on International Workers Memorial Day on Monday 28 April. The first demonstration was outside the Qatar embassy in Mayfair to highlight the plight of building workers forced to work in conditions akin to slavery. Hundreds of building workers, mainly from the Indian sub continent, have died due to the brutal conditions, working on sites building new football stadiums for the World Cup in 2018. Many are not paid at the end of long contracts. Workers cannot leave Qatar unless they get the permission of the government. Those raising genuine issues concerning wages or safety on sites are held as virtual prisoners and have their wages withheld. This is as close as it gets to modern day slavery.
Gail Cartmell, Unite AGS and Steven Murphy GS of UCATT led a delegation which handed in a protest letter to the embassy. Kwasi Agymeng-Prempeh, our newly re-elected Executive Council member joined the protest. Great to see our new Territorial Executive delegates showing support for this important issue. Football fans need to get organised next season, to bring pressure on FIFA to withdraw its backing for Qatar hosting the World Cup while these inhumane conditions exist.
The second protest to commemorate International Workers Memorial Day took place at Tower Hill at the Building Worker Statue. A lone piper played a lament and black balloons were released at the end to highlight the deaths of workers in their workplaces over the last year. Four building workers have died in central London building sites alone over the last few months. UCATT and Unite members were present to hear the speeches from the Construction Safety Campaign and The London Hazards Centre.