Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jayaben Desai RIP

"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 fingertips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are the lions, Mr. Manager."
Jayaben Desai, to her boss, at the start of the Grunwick dispute in 1976.

"When they talked of the power of the trade union movement I listened but I didn't really believe. Now I see that power."
Jayaben Besai, when thousands of workers from other industries joined the Grunwick mass pickets.

Mrs Desai was one of the highest-profile and most articulate of the strikers, who proved that workers' struggle takes place not just in its traditional bastions, that Asian women workers can fight the bosses as tenaciously as anyone.

Her example has inspired many women (and men) in the 30+ years since.

Mrs Desai died last week. Her death is a very sad loss.

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