This is the first episode of the new WCH podcast on the Grunwick strike of East African Asian women workers in London 1976-8.
Firstly apologies for the audio quality of this episode. We are learning as we go, and the quality is better in later episodes so please do bear with us!
Support the WCH podcast on patreon here: www.patreon.com/workingclasshistory
In addition to struggles in workplaces, Asians in Britain fought racism in the streets, forming militant Asian Youth Movements around the country. Learn more about those in episodes 33-34 of our podcast with Tariq Mehmood.
To learn more about the struggles of Black and Asian workers in Britain, get Ron Ramdin’s excellent book The Making of the Black Working Class in Britain here in our online store.
For a short video history of the Grunwick strike see here on our YouTube channel.
This is an interesting article with more information about the strike which was written while it was ongoing.
Check out their website of Grunwick 40 here: grunwick40.wordpress.com/
The website of the South Asia Solidarity Group is here: www.southasiasolidarity.org/
Before Grunwick, there were other strikes by black and Asian workers in the UK, where the unions basically adopted a racist approach and supported preferential treatment of white workers. Notably these included the 1974 Imperial Typewriters strike, the 1973 Standard Telephones and Cables strike and the 1972 Mansfield Hosiery strike.
Also mentioned during the podcast was the “colour bar” on public transport in Bristol enforced by the TGWU union which was eventually broken by a boycott in 1963.
Arthur Scargill – left-wing leader of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), at the time the most powerful trade union in the UK
Ian Tomlinson – a newspaper seller on his way home in London who was attacked and killed by a police officer during the 2009 protests against the G-20 summit in London. The press originally falsely claimed that police trying to “help” a “dying man” were “pelted with bricks” by demonstrators.
IWGB union – the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, a rank-and-file-controlled union in London: https://iwgb.org.uk/
Kettling – the police practice of penning in demonstrators for prolonged periods of time
Orientalism – the subtle and persistent patronising Western representations of “the Orient” – meaning individuals and cultures from Asia, North Africa and the Middle East
Trades Council – an umbrella body for delegates from different trade unions in a geographical area
United Voices of the World union – another rank-and-file union of mostly migrant workers: https://www.uvwunion.org.uk/
Episode graphic courtesy https://www.flickr.com/photos/unisonpicsCC by NC 2.0
Edited by Tyler Hill of the Gods & Ghosts podcast: tylerkenthill.podbean.com/
Our theme tune is Bella Ciao, thanks for permission to use it from Dischi del Sole. You can purchase it here or stream it here.