Jayaben Desai who led the Grunwick Strike in Dollis Hill nominated for a Blue Plaque
PUBLISHED: 11:27 07 March 2019
The “inspirational” leader of the Grunwick Strike in Dollis Hill is one of 100 women to be nominated to receive a Blue Plaque.
Jayaben Desai led the revolt at the Grunwick Film Processing Laboratories in Chapter Road, where the predominately female factory workers protested against their bosses refusal to recognise their union status in 1976.
Mrs Desai, who died aged 77 in December 2010, led the workers, dubbed “strikers in saris”, into downing tools and picketing the company for almost two years.
They did not win the workforce the union recognition they had wanted but their courage and resilience changed the history of industrial relations.
To mark International Women’s Day tomorrow the London Assembly launched a campaign to redress a gender imbalance which sees only 14 per cent of Blue Plaques in the capital honouring women.
They are presenting the list of 100 women, which also includes Princess Diana, to English Heritage.
The Assembly is also calling on English Heritage to review the rules which govern the scheme to make them less restrictive.
Former strikers descended once again on Dollis Hill to attend the 40th anniversary of the strike events held in 2016 and 2017.
The Grunwick 40 commemoration project, which took two years to put together, launched two colourful murals.
Group members also held an exhibition.
Sujata Aurora, chair of Grunwick 40, said: “Jayaben Desai was not just the most prominent South Asian woman of the 1970s but she was an inspiration for working class people of all ethnicities.
“Commemorating her contribution would be a recognition of the power of solidarity.”
Jennette Arnold OBE AM, deputy chair of the London Assembly said: Iconic Blue Plaques are an important way of recognising the contributions of those who lived in London, but the disparity between men and women is nothing to celebrate.
“We applaud English Heritage for the changes they have made to the diversity of the selection process and encourage them to keep pushing forward with modernising the systems and rules.
Anna Eavis, secretary of the English Heritage Blue Plaques panel added: “English Heritage is committed to increasing the number of blue plaques to women and we’d like to thank the London Assembly for supporting us in this aim