On December 23rd 2010 Jayaben Desai passed away, aged 77.
Desai was one of the best known leaders of the strike at the Grunwick film processing factory in 1976. In the face of poor conditions, insults and harassment, she led a walkout in an attempt to convince managers to recognise a unionised workforce.
The Grunwick strike was a seminal moment in the history of trade unionism, women and race relations in the UK - and Jayaben Desai herself became a national figure . The solidarity of other trade unionists - including local postal workers who refused to deliver mail to the Grunwick factory - was hugely significant as unions had in the past been slow to support black and migrant workers.
The dispute lasted two years, but ultimately the strikers lost and Mrs Desai felt betrayed by the TUC for failing to stand by them to the end. Nevertheless, Mrs Desai and her fellow strikers had struck a hugely significant blow for the cause of trade unionism and the rights of Asian women workers. The Grunwick strikers continue to inspire all who follow in their footsteps.