Striking Contrasts: South Asian women activists and the British trade union movement in the Grunwick and Gate Gourmet Disputes
Room 1.06, Leeds University Business School
Speakers: Professor Ruth Pearson, Dr Sundari Anitha (Centre for Development Studies, POLIS, University of Leeds),
This seminar is based on an on going research project entitled "Subverting stereotypes: Subverting stereotypes: Asian women's political activism - a comparison of the Grunwick and Gate Gourmet strikes" which is funded by the AHRC's Diaspora, Migration and Identities programme.
Both these strikes involved South Asian migrant women workers - but there are a number of differences as well as similarities between the two strikes. However there are also many contrasts between the two disputes - the Grunwick strikers came from settled Asian communities in East Africa, were educated in English, were older, and had little previous experience of involvement in the UK labour market, or of organising as workers. On the other hand the Gate Gourmet women were direct migrants from (mainly) the Punjab, were not English speakers, had been working for several years in the London area, and many had been previously involved with trade unions in this country. In the case of the Grunwick workers the British Trade Union movement embraced the cause of the strikers as their own cause, wherease apart from an intial solidarity action - later deemed to be against the secondary picketing law, there has been no sustained union support for the Gate Goumet strikers.
At the heart of this research are very different versions of both the Grunwick and the Gate Gourmet disputes, particularly with regards to the role of the UK trade union movement in defending the rights of Asian women workers.
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