Commemorating 40 years since the beginning of the Grunwick Dispute, this seminal text examines the intersection of trade unions, race and the law during one of the most defining events for unions of the twentieth century. The Grunwick Dispute fundamentally changed the way trade unions operated, and brought migrant labour concerns to the fore. This second edition of Jack Dromey and Graham Taylor’s work is published in association with the GMB.
Grunwick was the strike that changed the rules of the game.
It changed the way the unions thought about race, about their own core values, and about the best way to organise among the new immigrant communities coming to Britain in the 1970s. Moreover, it changed the way unions thought about the law, and raised big questions about their will to win.
In the beginning, Grunwick wasn’t a strike about wages – it was about something much more important than that. It was about dignity at work. And, for the small band of Asian women strikers, who braved sun, rain and snow month-in and month-out on the picket-lines, from August 1976 to July 1978, rights in the workplace and pride at work, were far more important than any amount of money.
At the time, this book was the seminal account of the dispute, providing the workers’ own story in their own words and told by two of the leading participants in the strike. Now, forty years later, its themes still resonate, making this book vital reading for all of those who seek to organise within their own communities and workplaces.
Note on the text
List of Illustrations
‘We are the Lions, Mr. Manager!’, Tim Roache
Grunwick: The Workers’ Story – Foreword, Jack Dromey
Introduction, Graham Taylor
- Inside ‘the Zoo’
- On the Track
- The Strike Breaks Out
- ‘The Happy Family’
- The Movement Mobilises
- The Struggle Begins
- ‘NAFF v. the Unions – Who Wins?’
- NAFF Wins
- ‘Company Police’
- ‘Honey on Your Elbow’
- The Road to the Mass Picket
- The Battle for Chapter Road
- 11 July: the Beautiful Morning
- The Scarman Court of Inquiry
- The Last Battle
“Dromey and Taylor were members of Brent Trades Council which actively supported the struggle, and their book vividly recorded the events as they unfolded.”
– Barry Winter, Independent Labour Party
“The book provides a valuable understanding of this fascinating dispute and generates nostalgia for an age when unions at least attempted to resist uncompromising employers.”
– Tony Manzi, Chartist
“The narrative is a faithful and meticulous chronological account from the perspective of the workers of the origins, course and outcome of a very important dispute. It’s well worthy of retelling 40 years on.”
– Mary Davis, Morning Star
‘The value of this book lies not in its detailed and passionate recounting of a strike at a small factory in North London, but in its clear and partisan analysis of the politics behind the strike.’ … ‘All in all, a book well worth reading; both by those of us who lived through those events, and those to whom it may appear history – it is not ‘history’ but a prescient teaching tool.’
– Richard Allday, Counterfire
‘[The book] tells the inspiring story of how a group of unorganised, maily female Asian immigrant workers took on an intransigent, expoitative employer and “not only changed the trade union movement but the whole of British society.” … This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about race relations, an open and tolerant society, and the freedom of workers to oppose exploitation.’
– Chris Clayton, North West Labour History Journal