Who is she?
Jayaben Desai was a famous leader of the strikers in the Grunwick union dispute in the UK in 1976.
Jayaben moved from India and Tanzania to Britain, where she took up low-paid factory work, first as a sewing machinist and then in a film processing factory.
Fed up with the conditions, she resigned and led a strike among the mostly female immigrant workforce. The strike lasted two years and the strikers had to concede defeat, but not before mobilising hundreds of others to support them.
Why we should thank her?
Jayaben’s actions helped to raise the profile of newly arrived immigrant workers (most of whom were women at the time) and set the scene for turbulent period in British industrial relations.
“We have shown that workers like us, new to these shores, will never accept being treated without dignity or respect. We have shown that white workers will support us.”