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30 years on... women of Whitechapel remember Grunwick struggle

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:19 05 October 2010

WOMEN staged a special event in London’s East End this week to mark their part in Britain’s longest-running industrial dispute 30 years ago. They ran a seminar at the Women’s Library in Whitechapel, reliving the year-long strike at the Grunwick plant which ran from 1978 to 1979

By Mike Brooke

WOMEN staged a special event in London’s East End this week to mark their part in Britain’s longest-running industrial dispute some 30 years ago.

They ran an exhibition and seminar at the Women’s Library in Whitechapel, reliving the year-long strike by Asian women workers at the Grunwick photographic plant in north London which ran from 1978 to 1979.

The women were protesting against sweatshop’ conditions and the banning of the right to organise a union workplace branch, which led to an industrial lock out’.

The dispute became a focal point of trade union campaigns in the 1970s and brought thousands of protesters from all over the country to picket the plant in Willesden which involved clashes with police.

Grunwick’s was one of several major labour disputes which led the new Thatcher Government of the day to bring in tough legislation against strikes and pickets.

Those involved in the strike 30 years ago turned up for Saturday’s exhibition at Whitechapel’s Women’s Library at the London Metropolitan University campus, where they gave talks on the struggle for a Living Wage’ now accepted as an industry norm.’

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