"We can bring our shared history to life."
In a moving ceremony, Birmingham’s community came together on Soho Road to celebrate a significant piece of history and the enduring spirit of solidarity during the 1976-78 Grunwick Dispute.
The DESIblitz mural is a testament to the strength of the ‘Strikers in Saris’ and the local community that stood with them during their struggle.
The mural encapsulates the courage and determination of those who made sacrifices, fought for justice, and inspired change during the historic Grunwick Dispute.
A group of workers led an Asian women worker, Jayaben Desai, walked out in protest against their treatment by the managers at the Grunwick factory on Friday, August 20 1976.
The workers wanted to defend their dignity and their rights and felt that enough was enough.
Many of the women striking were dressed in ethnic attire including saris and salwar kameez. Many of the striking workforce had arrived from Uganda and East Africa in the 1970s.
After the initial picketing by Jayaben and her co-workers outside the Grunwick factory, the strike gained incredible momentum. A testament to the Asian women and men who were striking for better working rights.
By June 1977, marches in support of the Grunwick strikers led to sometimes more than 20,000 people gathering near Dollis Hill tube station.
The mural event also highlighted the role played by the Indian Workers Association, who organised coaches from Birmingham to London in support of the workers and their protest.
The mural was painted directly on the walls of Soho Road by renowned Pakistani truck artist, Haider Ali. Who flew over from Pakistan especially to help produce this iconic project.
Haider Ali dedicated five weeks of his skills and unique artforms to create this masterpiece.
His artwork vividly portrays the emotions, passion, and history surrounding the Grunwick Dispute, making it a source of immense pride for the community.
During the ribbon-cutting ceremony, community leaders, and dignitaries underscored the mural’s significance, emphasising that it not only unveiled a piece of art but also honoured the legacy of those who fought for justice.
The commitment to justice made by the Grunwick Strikers has left a lasting mark on the community and the nation, a legacy that the mural seeks to preserve.
Numerous organisations and entities were thanked for their support in bringing this project to life, including Network Rail, Soho Road Business Improvement District (BID), John Feeney Trust, Dishoom, and Aston University.
Their contributions played a pivotal role in transforming this mural from an idea into a reality.
The event encouraged the community not only to admire the strokes of paint on the wall but also to remember the stories and the individuals behind them.
Attendees were encouraged to draw inspiration from the unity of the Grunwick Strikers and to pledge to continue their legacy by standing up for justice.
Speeches were made by various notable attendees including representatives from Network Rail, Aston University, Jagwant Johal (IWA) and Monder Ram, Deputy lieutenant for the West Midlands.
They highlighted the importance of the splendid mural and how it needs to educate future generations.
Indi Deol, DESIblitz Managing Director, said:
“I’d like to thank all our partners for their support and collaboration in making this project a reality.
“Partnerships like these can bring our shared history to life, educate future generations, and continue to strengthen our bonds as a community.
“Let’s not just admire the strokes of paint on this wall, but let us remember the stories and the people behind them.
“Let us draw inspiration from their unity, their resilience, and their determination.”
“Let us pledge to carry their legacy forward, to stand up for justice, and to always remember the power of coming together for a common cause.
“Thank you to all who joined us on this momentous occasion.”
The unveiling of the Grunwick Strike Mural on Soho Road is more than just an art installation; it’s a powerful reminder of the history that defines this community.
It serves as a symbol of hope for future generations, ensuring that the sacrifices made during the Grunwick Dispute are never forgotten.
Check out all the amazing photos of the Grunwick Strike Mural in our special gallery: