Free online interactive resources for schools and community organisations about migration, women and work and workers’ rights in the UK and the world
Through original artwork, photographs, personal testimonies of the strikers, posters and other contemporary sources, these resources highlight the important contribution of migrant and women workers to the UK. They will be of particular interest to students of Citizenship, History and Geography (migration) at key stages 3 and 4, and will be a useful resource for the Black History Month.
These resources have been developed by Dr Sundari Anitha from the University of Lincoln and Professor Ruth Pearson from the University of Leeds as a follow up project to a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
The role of South Asian women migrants in the UK workforce has been largely ignored by history, but they have played an important, and growing role in the UK workforce over the last 50 years. These resources highlight the Grunwick and Gate Gourmet disputes as examples of the wider context of the history of migration to the UK and the struggles for workers’ rights.
Dr Anitha, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: “This story isn’t just about the history of one group of people.; it concerns the history of workers’ rights in Britain. The struggles these migrant women faced are the same struggles many millions of people of different backgrounds have faced to secure fair pay and conditions over the decades.”
According to Ruth Pearson, Emeritus Professor of Development Studies at the University of Leeds, “It is important to acknowledge the role of migrant women as workers as well as in terms of religion, culture and identity. This project gives a voice to the women involved in struggling for their rights in employment and also in trade unions. It is a struggle on behalf of all women and workers, not just minority women, who have made a significant contribution to the modern trade union movement in the UK.”
This educational site designed for use by secondary school teachers and children in Key Stages 4 and 5. The material is based on original research and a number of different types of resources. The website has resources about migration, women and work, workers’ rights as well as the role of South Asian women in the Grunwick strike of the late 1970s and the Gate Gourmet dispute which led to the closure of Heathrow airport in 2005. This site includes research findings, workbooks, time-lines, case studies, learning objectives and activities for students.
The site also contains a downloadable two-part comic which depicts the life stories of two South Asian women in the UK. The first of these stories is about Jayaben Desai, the leader of the Grunwick dispute in North London and the second story depicts the life of Jatinder Kaur, and her involvement in the Hillingdon and Gate Gourmet industrial disputes. The comic is also available in print upon request.
“As a trade unionist, anti-racist, and a Geography teacher, I recommend this amazing resource. As a Geography teacher in a girl’s school with a very diverse population it is always good to find resources that the students can directly relate to. This website, together with the comic and exhibition, presents material about migration in an accessible and memorable way and is entirely appropriate to our GCSE unit ‘Moving World’. Issues of migration and workers’ rights are as important today as they were in previous times, with the proliferation of call centres and outsourcing and as immigration from Eastern Europe and elsewhere brings in new workers. The story of Jayaben Desai, the Grunwick strike leader, deserves its place in British Trade Union history and the Striking Lives comic reaffirms that. “