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We are the Lions, Mr Manager play returns to Willesden for one night

PUBLISHED: 13:41 26 January 2018

Medhavi Patel is playing Jayaben Desia in We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! (Picture: Carl Davis)

Medhavi Patel is playing Jayaben Desia in We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! (Picture: Carl Davis)

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Tickets are on sale to catch a performance of Dollis Hill’s iconic strike more than 40 years ago.

Jayaben Desai by a photograph of herself on the picket line on the 30th anniversary of the dispute (Picture: Andrew Wiard) Jayaben Desai by a photograph of herself on the picket line on the 30th anniversary of the dispute (Picture: Andrew Wiard)

We are the Lions, Mr Manager, the critically acclaimed play by Townsend Productions, is stopping at the College of North West London in Dudden Hill Lane, Willesden, on April 19 at 7.30pm.

Currently touring the UK, the play tells the true story of Jayaben Desai the inspirational leader of the 1976-78 Grunwick Strike.

The dispute at the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories, in Chapter Road, was sparked by the dismissal of Devshi Bhudia for working too slowly. On August 20 1976 a group of workers, led by Jayaben Desai, walked out in protest at their unfair working conditions, low pay and the “bullying tactics” used by management.

At 4ft 10in the mother-of-two defiantly led the first walk-out telling her manager: “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 finger-tips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager!”

At its height more than 20,000 people came out to support the women, known as the “strikers in saris” by marching down Willesden High Road.

Ms Desai turned the dispute about workplace exploitation and racism into a national movement for human rights and dignity in the workplace.

The 40th anniversary was celebrated last year with an exhibition at Willesden Library in the High Road. In October former strikers returned to the site for the unveiling of two murals to commemorate their battle.

Writer by Neil Gore said: “In our work we aim to focus on the lives and contributions of inspirational and vital figures from our social history, often forgotten, who campaigned vigorously to improve the quality of life for everyone.

“Jayaben Desai is one such figure. Her resolve and courage should be remembered and celebrated.” Tickets cost £10, or £5 concessions.

They can be booked at lineupnow.com/event/we-are-the-lions-mr-manager-4

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