Grunwick dispute archive

Scope and Content

These are mainly photocopies of APEX correspondence and papers with some original items. There is also some material apparently originally in the custody of Brent Trades Council, which provided facilities for the Grunwick Strike Committee.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Grunwick dispute began in August 1976 when 137 workers (mostly South Asian women) walked out of the Grunwick film processing plant in Willesden, north-east London. The dispute, which centred on the lack of union recognition at Grunwick, involved the Association of Professional, Executive, Clerical and Computer Staff union (APEX), which represented the strikers. The strike, which was co-ordinated by the Grunwick Strike Committee and led by Jayaben Desai, became a cause celebre for the union movement, attracting a wide range of activist support to picket lines outside the plant. There were allegations of violence and intimidation made by both management and the strikers and such was the national impact of the dispute that the then Labour Government set up a Cabinet committee to deal with the issues it raised. The strike was finally called off by the remaining strikers in July 1978 after 670 days.

Reference: Jack Dromey, 'Grunwick; the workers' story' (London, 1978); George Ward, 'Fort Grunwick' (London, 1977).


Within their respective series, these records have largely been arranged in the order of their former references.

Access Information

This collection is available to researchers by appointment at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick. See One file (MSS.464/35) which is closed under the Data Protection Act until 2057; a redacted version of this file is available.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated to the Centre in August and October 2002.

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on the use of this archive, apart from the requirements of copyright law.

Appraisal Information

This collection has been weeded for duplicates and ephemera.

Custodial History

This archive seems to have been assembled after the end of the dispute from APEX and Brent Trades Council sources and was presented to the National Museum of Labour History in 1978 (see MSS.464/12 and 62).


Further deposits are not expected.

Related Material

The Modern Records Centre also holds Trade Union Congress files on the Grunwick dispute (reference MSS.292/253.119/1-4). The TUC Library at the University of North London includes a collection of press reports, leaflets, posters on the strike, 1976-1979, reference HD 5367.