Grunwick Strike 1977

One of Britain's most important industrial disputes took place at Grunwick Photo Processing Plant in Willesden. It lasted nearly two years, from August 1976 and July 1978, regularly hitting the national news headlines.

The strike began in the summer of 1976. Grunwick was a small firm employing many female and Asian staff. The staff claimed that pay and conditions were poor and some walked out. One was Mrs Jayaben Desai, who had refused to do forced overtime. She picketed the plant and asked other workers to sign a petition asking for union recognition.

More than 130 workers joined the strikers. Over the next two years, Mrs Desai became a spokesperson for the strikers. On the other side was the factory's owner, George Ward. He had always said that he would rather see the plant close than let in a union.

In response, workers from other industries supported the strike and picketed the factory. Post Office staff tried to stop delivering undeveloped film to the factory to be processed, but their actions were deemed illegal and had to stop.


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