Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Grunwick. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Grunwick. Sort by date Show all posts

Saturday 20 August 2016

The Grunwick strike began 40 years ago today: 'WE ARE THOSE LIONS' - commemoration events


From Grunwick40
It's an important day.

Today is the 40th anniversary of the first moments of the Grunwick strike – and we're proud to announce our plans to commemorate it. 

We'll be running a series of inspiring, thought-provoking events exploring Grunwick and its legacy, launching with Grunwick Memories on Saturday 27 August.

Grunwick Memories is a free event, giving you the opportunity to explore and contribute to the Grunwick archive held by Brent Museum and Archives. Come along and take part in a story sharing session and add your memories and experiences of the strike to the Archive. You will also get an exclusive look at some of the materials that will feature in the upcoming exhibition.

Grunwick Memories will take place at Brent Archive, on the second floor of The Library at Willesden Green, Willesden High Road NW10 2SF, from 2-4 pm on Saturday 27 August. Please join us! Email or call 020 8937 3600 for more information.

Other upcoming events:
We are those lions: The story of the Grunwick strike 1976-78 exhibition, launching October 2016 at The Library at Willesden Green. Look out for the launch date – coming soon.
The Great Grunwick Mural unveiling, Chapter Road, NW10. Be the first to see our amazing murals in place near the original Grunwick site. The design and unveiling details are still under wraps, but we'll be revealing details over the next few weeks, along with the names of our special guests, who'll be providing music and entertainment.
Explore Grunwick in more detail at our November events, a film screening and discussion on “Race and the Unions” at SOAS, November 2nd, and Grunwick 40: The Conference, The Library at Willesden Green, November 26th – booking for these events will open in October.

Yours in solidarity,

Grunwick 40

PS: Don't miss out on the reissued anniversary edition of Grunwick: The Workers’ Story, by Jack Dromey and Graham Taylor, with an updated introduction – due out in late September.

Monday 10 October 2016

Upcoming Grunwick40 events - exhibition, film, conference

From Grunwick40

Hi everyone
We’re really excited. There's just over a week to go until the opening of ‘We are the lions: an exhibition commemorating the Grunwick strike 1976-78’ – and it’s going to be amazing.
This exhibition wouldn’t have happened without your support. So we hope you’ll come and visit it at Brent Museum & Archives in Willesden, where it will run from October 19th 2016 to March 26th 2017. Opening times and details are here.
You’ll get a chance to explore archive images and records of the strike, immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the 70s and have some fun creating your own responses to Grunwick in the creative area (kids welcome too!). We also have the original Grunwick Strike Committee banner on display with its highly unusual design – see if you can spot its influence throughout the look of the exhibition.
And don’t forget, if you like what you see, we’re also offering a free travelling exhibition to schools and community groups. Drop us an email at to book it for a venue near you.
As if all this isn’t enough, November will also see us run two huge Grunwick events:
They’re both free and open to all, which means they’ll fill up fast – so make sure you don’t miss out.
Now we’re working to get the formal permissions sorted so that we can get our amazing community murals out into the streets of Brent – it’s taking a little longer than planned but don’t worry, you’ll be the first to hear about the great unveiling. 
See you at a Grunwick-themed event soon!

The team at Grunwick 40.
Grunwick 40 partner organisations are Brent Trades Council, Willesden Green Town Team and Brent Museum and Archive

Saturday 9 April 2016

'Trade unions are not just for white men' - Grunwick film and panel at TUC on Friday

Friday April 15th at Trade Union Congress 23-28 Great Russell Street WC1B 3LS 7pm

The TUC Race Relations Committee in association with the SERTUC Film Club presents a screening of ‘The Great Grunwick Strike 1976-1978: A History’, followed by a panel discussion on the lessons that can be learnt from the dispute.

This documentary film takes a look at the Grunwick dispute which erupted at a photo processing plant in Willesden, London, in the summer of 1976 and lasted two years. A predominately East African and South Asian female workforce went on strike over appalling working conditions and the issue of trade union recognition.  The dispute is remembered as one of the most significant in the history of the British labour movement.

The following panel debate will be chaired by Kamaljeet Jandu and participants will include Chris Thomson (Filmmaker), Dr Sundari Anitha (Striking Women) and Sujata Aurora (Grunwick 40).


The Grunwick 40 campaign is raising funds to install a huge mural close to the factory site in Willesden as a permanent public reminder of the unity that the Grunwick strike represented.
Support their appeal by donating or asking your union branch to donate via, or via, or send a cheque payable to Brent Trades Council c/o 375 High Road, London NW10 2JR.

Message from Grunwick 40

We need your donations to commemorate the heroes of the Grunwick Strike

40 years ago a group of Asian women asked for the right to join a union and were sacked by their employer. Their bosses thought that Asian women were passive and obedient and wouldn't fight back.
But that group of workers gained the support of thousands and went on to wage one of the longest and most important disputes in post-war British history.

They changed the idea that trade unions were only for white men. They shattered stereotypes. And at a time of enormous racial prejudice they brought people together in unity and solidarity.
40 years on we want to celebrate them.

We have ambitious plans to install a big mural close to the original factory site in Willesden, as well as stage an historical exhibition and a conference. But we need money to make it happen.
Please give whatever you can afford.

We have some exclusive rewards for people who donate including badges, posters, DVDs and rare artwork from the 1970s so please consider making a personal donation or asking your union branch to make one. Every £ helps to ensure that the legacy of the brave Grunwick strikers is not lost.

Visit to donate.

Monday 31 October 2016

"We are the Lions" has opened to much praise and is stimulating solidarity with Deliveroo, Uber drivers and Durham teaching assistants

 From Grunwick 40

 "We Are The Lions", the exhibition about the Grunwick strike is open and it's getting a fantastic reception! 

"History pulsating from the walls"

"A wonderful display of such an important, inspiring and pivotal moment in history"

You can read some of the press coverage herehere and here. What's more, you can also watch curator  Poulomi Desai talk about the exhibition on London Live here and listen to her too on the Robert Elms show (39 mins in).

We're really delighted at the feedback so don't forget to visit yourself! Click here for opening times and details.

Some upcoming events

This Weds 2nd November, we meet at SOAS for a screening of the "The Great Grunwick Strike" film. Directed by Chris Thomas in 2007 and featuring original footage and interviews, the film tells the inspiring story of the strike and the people behind it. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Amrit Wilson (writer and activist), Conseulo Moreno (SOAS Justice for Cleaners Campaign) and Sujata Aurora (chair of Grunwick 40). The discussion will be chaired by Parvathi Raman of the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies who have co-organised the event. Admission is free and there's no need to book, just turn up at 7pm to the Khalili Lecture Theatre at SOAS (Click here for details and a map).

The legal ruling last week on Uber drivers' employment rights has brought into sharp focus the issues of the so-called "gig economy" where many migrant workers are now concentrated. On 26th November we'll be bringing together activists, trade unionists, campaigners and thinkers, to discuss the legacy of the Grunwick strike and the new terrains for resistance. We'll be tracing the thread of what links Grunwick to current struggles for justice and participants will include the Durham teaching assistants and others currently in dispute. "From Grunwick to Deliveroo: getting organised, getting unionised" takes place from 10am-4.30pm in Willesden. Admission is free but registration is essential. Click here to book.

Finally, we are still working on the permissions and the paperwork for the unveiling of the mural and hope to make an announcement soon. In the meantime you can get a sneak preview of some of the work that went into the mural at the "We Are The Lions exhibition".

We look forward to seeing you either at the exhibition or at one of our November events.


The Grunwick 40 team

Sunday 17 April 2011

Jayaben Desai: Lessons from the past for the future

The scene outside Grunwick's, Chapter Road, Willesden as painted by Dan Jones
The Tricycle Cinema was crowded this afternoon for a commemoration of Jayaben Desai, leader of the Grunwick Strike Committee, who died in December 2010.  The meeting temporarily brought together councillors and activists who have recently been battling over local council cuts.  As the audience reflected on the events of the 1970s both sides could draw lessons from this historical strike.

As I watched the film and once again saw Jayaben's bravery in the face of police violence, her impish sense of humour that bettered many a journalist, her self-identification as a strong woman against crude stereotypes of Asian female submissiveness and  most of all her steadfastness in standing up for her rights and that of her fellow workers, I could not help but be moved.  As people spoke about Jayaben from different perspectives our appreciation deepened. We heard from Amrit Wilson how Jayaben invited her to her home and talked at length about herself and the strike and the links with race and colonial struggle. It was alleged that George Ward, the Grunwick boss, continued to pursue Jayaben after her death, with threats of legal action against obituarists who mentioned accusations of racism  at Grunwick.

We heard from an Asian Women's group how Jayaben clashed with the group's chair about the suppression of ego and advised the women to stop buying jewellery with their money but instead empower themselves by using the money instead to buy driving lessons. It also emerged that she was an erudite contributor to the Gujerati Literary Society.

Cllr Janice Long asked for support to persuade Brent Council to name a building after Jayaben Desai to commemorate her life and urged to audience to write to the leader of the council, Cllr Ann John, who was  also present. Another speaker, stressing the need for children to be educated about the importance of Jayaben's role, urged that a school be named after here.

Broader issues were also raised. Pete Firmin linked the struggles of immigrant workers, and the support they received from  rank and file white trade unionists, with David Cameron's attacks on multiculturalism and the attempt to divide new arrivals into 'good' and 'bad' migrants.  Jack Dromey, then Secretary of Brent Trades Council and now a Labour MP reminded the meeting that a few years before Grunwick, dockers and Smithfield meat porters had marched in support of Enoch Powell after his 'rivers of blood' speech. Jayaben had said, 'We are lions - I am afraid of no one' . She went on to say that the strike had shown that immigrant workers will fight and white workers will support them. Dromey concluded that Grunwicks had 'demonstrated all that is best in our movement and in our immigrant community'.

There were many critical comments about the TUC's role at Grunwick's and warnings that their lack of will to fully use their potential power remains in 2011 as we face the attacks on public services, benefits and the vulnerable. Geoff Shears, at the time a young  legal representative for the strikers, confessed that he had felt intimidated by Mrs Desai.   He said that anti-trade union laws did not exist in their present form then but instead there was a conspiracy that enabled courts to break the law by restricting the solidarity action of postal workers, the police to break the law by attacking pickets, and George Ward to ignore the recommendations of the Scarman Inquiry that came down 90% in favour of the strikers.  He said that had prepared the ground for Thatcher in the 1980s and warned that it would be used again by the Coalition government.  Mrs Desai had understood the meaning of solidarity as requirement for workers to organise collectively to ensure that the unions served their interests.

Billy Hayes, General Secretary of the Communication  Workers Union (successor to the Union of Post Office Workers) said that the union's next conference would be considering awarding honorary membership to Jayaben Desai and wiping out the fines imposed by the union on the Cricklewood postmen who refused to deliver Grunwick mail at the time.

As I have remarked on this blog before LINK Jayeben and the story of Grunwick is a far better subject for children to study in Brent Black History Month than rehashed versions of American black history that currently dominate the curriculum.

Monday 6 July 2020

Grunwick strike: Film of 'We are the Lions Mr Manager' available on-line for limited period.

Received from Townsend Theatre Productions

You can be the first to see our film of edited archive footage of the production 'We are the Lions, Mr. Manager! touring  2017-18/ filmed at TARA Theatre, Earlsfield, London in November 2017. 
To view film click link:  The film will be available for one month ONLY until 6th AUGUST.  Please click icon on bottom right that says cc for Subtitles.
If you enjoy the film please make a DONATION via our donate pop up or our Support Us page on our website:

A suggested donation would be £3 which would help the company through these difficult times. Many thanks, and we hope very much you enjoy the film. Please keep an eye on our website for more online offerings coming soon, while we're not currently able to tour.

The Grunwick Strike of 1976 to 1978 wasn’t a strike about wages – it was about something much more important than that: it was about dignity. Dignity at work. Newly arrived immigrant workers were employed by the Grunwick film processing factory in North London in the belief that they would be easy to handle, to browbeat and to exploit. Yet, they found their own distinctive voice in the course of the struggle to secure their rights. Each morning the strikers, a group of predominantly Asian women led by Jayaben Desai, in colourful saris often hidden beneath heavy woollen coats, would take up their posts on the picket lines, unbowed and unbroken in the face of intimidation, the threat of arrest and the sting of the cold. Even during the hardest of times, Jayaben Desai had the uncanny ability to evoke a mood or sum up a situation with a perfectly weighted turn of phrase and a way and with words that captured the very essence of the human spirit. She had the measure of the most brutish and charmless of her managers, when she told them: ‘What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager!’
Grunwick truly did make history: it focused the issue of the exploitation of immigrant workers, nailed the myth that Asian workers were passive and unorganisable and defined the trade union and political lives of tens of thousands from across the nation who came to the streets of Willesden to back the Grunwick workers. Grunwick was a defeat. But a struggle like Grunwick cannot be considered a total loss. It illustrated how a section of totally unorganised workers, ignorant of trade unionism and insecure in a foreign land can yet develop militancy and attract huge solidarity. It showed too that all the forces of the state, the monied, the media, the police, the courts, employers, racial prejudice and women’s inequality can be swept aside by the freshness and dynamism of determined struggle. Grunwick is still posing questions to today’s generation about the role in society of women, workers and immigrants. And the strike still carries a challenging message about the need for human dignity. 
The play was written by Neil Gore, directed by Louise Townsend and features Medhavi Patel as Jayaben Desai and Neil Gore as almost everybody else. 
COMING SOON! - Podcast of 'Dare Devil Rides To Jarama' & a documentary film of interviews made with Shipbuilding communities across the UK.
The script is available to buy from Stagescripts: 

Sunday 6 March 2016

Book now for Grunwick commemoration mural workshops

Click on image to enlarge

This is your chance to partipate in designing a mural which will be installed on a prominent wall in Willesden in Autumn 2016. 

In 1976, six workers walked out of Grunwick Film Processing Laboratory in Willesden and ignited an historic two-year dispute which united thousands to demand better rights for poorly treated workers. 23rd August 2016 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Grunwick Strike, and offers a moment to remember, to commemorate, to celebrate and to learn.

Now the high street that saw 20,000 people come down in a single day to support the strike is looking pretty drab. As you arrive at Dollis Hill tube station and walk past the former Grunwick site to the main road, you’ll see plenty of plain, bare walls and unloved spaces.

We will be installing a mural close to the original site of the Grunwick factory to brighten up our high street with a permanent reminder of the power of our community; and to inspire future generations to come together to challenge injustice.

The workshops will be run by an experienced mural artist who will lead us in looking at a range of archive materials, including photographs and film. Using a variety of materials and printing techniques we will then create our own images of Grunwick which will eventually will be digitally combined to produce a design for the final mural.

Everyone aged 13 and above is welcome. You don't need any artistic ability as full guidance will be given, but if you have any photographs, press cuttings or memories of the dispute then please bring them along to share.

The workshops will run from 10.30am-3.30pm including a lunch break.

We are also running shorter workshops over three weeks on different dates at the Dudden Hill Centre, click here for details.

If you would like to contribute to the Crowdfunder which is riasing money for this project click HERE 

At time of writing £1,600 of the target £12,000 has been raised

Thursday 21 April 2016

Last chance to help fund Grunwick40 commemoration

A message from Grunwick40
We've raised over £9,000 so far to commemorate the Grunwick strikers – that brave group of workers who stood up for their rights 40 years ago and inspired a generation, changing the face of trade unions as they did it.

The work on the exhibition has started and the commemorative mural is taking shape with some stunning art being created at the community workshops.

We believe that the Grunwick mural will be the first ever piece of public art to mark the contribution of Asian women in Britain.

The mural is expensive to produce and install but we want to make it as high impact as possible. The Grunwick strikers fought for justice for all workers and now we want to do justice to them with a colourful tribute that is big, bold and celebratory.

We need your donations to help make this happen. 

This is the final week of our crowdfunding campaign and your last chance to get the fantastic rewards when you donate.

Please give whatever you can afford.

We have some exclusive rewards for people who donate including badges, posters, DVDs and rare artwork from the 1970s, so please consider making a personal donation or asking your union branch to make one. Whatever the amount, every £ helps to ensure that the legacy of Grunwick is not lost.

Please make your donation by 12.30pm on Monday 25th April. 
Thank you.

Grunwick 40 steering group
PS. Don't forget to spread the word, you can help by forwarding on this email, sharing our facebook posts or retweeting us!

Sunday 19 March 2017

Inspiration and solidarity: Durham Lions pay tribute to the Grunwick Lions

Pictures courtesy of Grunwick 40
Amazing how the Grunwick dispute that took place 40 years ago is inspiring struggles today. All credit to the local activists here in Brent who got together to organise an exhibition, a mural and other events to commemorate the Grunwick workers' strike with the intention of making it relevant to current struggles around working conditions, women workers, migration and race - not just dry history.
Their success in doing so was summed up when the exhibition was visited by the Durham Teaching Assistants who are mounting a terrific campaign of their own LINK. They have spoken of how their struggle has been inspired by Jayaben Desai and her fellow workers and they deserve Aditya Chakrobortty's LINK description of them as the 'Durham Lions'. The photographs speaks for themselves - pride and solidarity.

The exhibition finishes on Sunday March 26th (closes at 5pm) so if you haven't seen it get down to Willesden Library as soon as possible.

Link to other Wembley Matters coverage of Grunwick HERE

Monday 11 July 2016

Grunwick & Lucas Aerospace 40 years on: what can they teach us?

 1976 was quite a year for Brent with the ground-breaking Grunwick dispute and a Willesden outpost of Lucas Aerospace when workers were developing their own plans for socially useful production under workers control.  This upcoming event will enable us to reflect on both events and what we can learn from them.

 Useful background on this video - this is not the film that will be screened on July 22nd

Screening of The Year of the Beaver and The Lucas Plan LINK, with discussion and brief talks by Kerria Box (Grunwick 40) and Solfed.

22nd July 7pm at LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street, E1 (nearest tubes Whitechapel, Aldgate East.)

Organised by Breaking the Frame, Grunwick 40 and North London Solidarity Federation. FREE/donation.

1976 was a high tide of workers’ struggle and the year it all began to change. Giving the lie to racist and sexist myths that Asian women were submissive and would work for a pittance, workers at the Grunwick plant in Willesden rallied the left behind their struggle for the right to join the union. At the Lucas Aerospace arms company, the Shops Stewards’ Combine Committee took the fight to the bosses, with their workers’ Alternative Plan for socially useful production.

In 2016 we are still facing the fiction of  ‘foreigners taking our jobs.’ In the face of climate change and militarism, we again need industrial conversion, from fossil fuels and Trident to renewables, and to stop the bosses replacing our jobs with robots. Join us for 2 films and discussion, showing how workers’ rights and ideas are crucial to facing those challenges.

Refreshments will be available for a donation. Contact for more information. Venue is wheelchair accessible.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Grunwick 40 Exhibition just closed but keep the struggle going and perhaps display it yourselves

From Grunwick 40

The doors to the #wearethelions #Grunwick strike exhibition closed at 5pm today. As the record-breaking run ends, the Grunwick 40 team would like to thank everyone who made this exhibition possible: curator Poulomi Desai, designer Neelu Bhuman, artist Anna Ferrie, the staff at Brent Museum & Archives, Graham Taylor and Dr Sundari Anitha who gave generously of their time to assist with text and research, and the committee of volunteers who have put in over 18 months of unpaid and unseen work behind the scenes to make this entire project happen. All this couldn't have been possible without the financial support of the many individuals and trade union branches who donated to our crowdfunding appeal, very generously topped up by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Near Neighbours. Final thanks, of course, go to the actual strikers themselves, the lions who continue to inspire us with their courage and commitment.

For now, the exhibition will go into storage but we would love to see it travel around the country. If you have a space that may be suitable for displaying it please message us to discuss. The Grunwick story may be 40 years old but we hope its lessons and legacy will continue to resonate for generations to come.

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Celebrate 100 years of Working Class History in Brent Saturday 15th October

 Guest post by Mary Adossides, Chair Brent Trades Council



On 15 October Brent Trades Council will be celebrating the centenary of the Willesden Trades and Labour Hall’s constitution. The Trades Hall has played a crucial role in the political, economic and social history of Willesden and then Brent since the early 20th century. 


The front of the Willesden Trades and Labour Hall and Apollo Club


In her detailed article in the Willesden Local History Society Journal Winter/ Spring 22 edition, Christine Coates,  documents this icon of labour movement history (WLHS website - in case anyone is interested


 The growth of the industrial estates in Park Royal and Cricklewood, saw the growth of trade unions and political organisations and the push to have a venue for meetings meant the Trades and Labour Hall. The Willesden Trades and Labour Hall Society was set up 1922 and bought the Hall in 1924. Through the 20s and 30s, the Hall was mainly used for union and LP meetings with popular speakers such as Sylvia Pankhurst who founded the Willesden Branch of the Communist Workers’ Movement there in 1924.


During the 1926 General Strike, the Hall became a strike HQ. A local Council of Action was formed by the Willesden Labour Party with all the local TU branches. A strike bulletin was published and mass meetings were held on local Pound Green with football matches to fill the time between activity. Through the 1920s and 30s, support for unemployed and hunger marchers was organised from the Hall and the National Archives show it was under frequent police surveillance during this period.


After WW2, the Trades Hall continued to be an important hub for union and political campaigns. Nelson Mandela was invited to speak but the meeting had to be moved because of numbers. Willesden and Wembley joined to form the London Borough of Brent in 1965 and it became the home for the merged Brent Trades Council.


In 1969 an attempt was made to solve financial difficulties of the building with a long-term lease of the ground floor hall to the Apollo Club, a venue for reggae nights and West Indian music. It was a great success (Bob Marley played there). The rent was expected to pay the running cost of the building but did not resolve the hall’s financial difficulties.


Tom Durkin, President of Brent Trades Council, speaking to the Grunwick Women strikers during their 2 year strike 1976-1978

From 1976-1978 the rest of the building was used as a base for the Grunwick strikers struggling against workplace exploitation. At that time the Trades Council was probably at its strongest with 21,000 members and 130 delegates affiliated in 74 branches. Thousands joined the mass picket in Chapter Road, outside Dollis Hill in a week in action in June 1977 in solidarity with the Grunwick strikers and marched through Willesden led by Arthur Scargill supported by miners, dockers, printers, post office workers.


By the 1980s industrial decline led to a reduction in trade union activity.  Unfortunately without income the building could not be properly maintained. The Hall gradually fell into disrepair but continued to be used by the Apollo Club, the Labour Party, Brent TUC and a few local groups until in late 2019.Its use had to be paused at the start of the pandemic.


The Society itself revived in 2019 as an unincorporated group.Any solution which involves retaining the building will involve further serious sums of money and are being considered by the Willesden Trades and Labour Hall Society.


On 15th October from 7pm Brent Trades Council is celebrating its iconic hall :


Join our event 100 years of Working Class History in Brent at the Brent Black Music Coop (BBMC) from 7pm, 383 High Road, NW10 2JR, nearest tube Dollis Hill (Jubilee Line). Dawn Butler MP will launch the event, Chris Coates will speak about the history of the building, others will speak about the trade union movement and the Grunwick strike. There will be film, poetry and music. The all female Akabu reggae band will entertain us during the second part of the evening. Tickets available on Eventbrite:


Mary Adossides


Brent Trades Council