Italian Workers and Contractors in the City’s Housebuilding Industry, 1950–1980
In addressing these issues the book focuses on the role played by a specific economic sector in enabling immigrants to find their place in their new host society. More specifically, this study looks at the residential sector of the construction industry that, between the 1950s and the 1970s, represented a typical economic ethnic niche for newly arrived Italians. In fact, tens of thousands of Italian men found work in this sector as labourers, bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers and cement finishers, while hundreds of others became contractors, subcontractors or small employers in the same industry. This book is about these real people. It gives voice to a community formed both by entrepreneurial subcontractors who created companies out of nothing and a large group of exploited workers who fought successfully for their rights. In this book you will find stories of inventiveness and hope as well as of oppression and despair. The purpose is to offer an original approach to issues arising from the economic and social history of twentieth-century mass migrations.
‘I came to Canada because of the job […] In Italy no money, no future’.1
‘We were economic refugees […] Work was the central point. Work was the first problem’.2
‘Si lavorava di giorno, di sera, di notte, sempre [We used to work during the day, the evening, the night, always]’.3
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