Story of a woman who led a workplace revolt comes to Bedford stage

Jayaben Desai led the first walk-out in protest against conditions at a factory in Willesden, London
Jayaben Desai led the first walk-out in protest against conditions at a factory in Willesden, London

The extraordinary story of a dispute that challenged the way women and immigrants are treated in the workplace is coming to Bedford.

On August 20, 1976, a group of workers in a film processing factory in Willesden walked out in protest at their unfair working conditions, low pay and the “bullying tactics” used by management.

Led by mostly East African Asian women, the Grunwick strike became one of the longest and most important industrial disputes in British history, and changed the way trade unions thought about race and new immigrant communities coming to Britain in the 1970s.

And the story takes to the stage in a world premiere at The Place on Saturday, October 14, in a new play called We Are The Lions, Mr Manager! It focuses on a woman named Jayaben Desai, who led the first walk-out in protest against the humiliation she and other women employees felt at the Grunwick factory.

Playwright Neil Gore said: “Jayaben’s resolve and courage should be remembered and celebrated.”

The play is presented by Townsend Theatre Productions, who will take the show on a lengthy tour after the Bedford date.

Call 01234 354321 to book or for more information,