Friday, July 20, 2007

Vishnu Sharma

Born in the Punjab in 1921, Vishnu Sharma was active in the peasant movement and later in trade unions, becoming Assistant General Secretary of the Punjab Provincial TUC at a time of the British Raj.

Because of his militancy, he was arrested six times and imprisoned for a total of three and a half years. He was forced to stay in his village for 21 months and visit the police at 11am every Sunday. Sharma joined the Communist Party of India in 1937.

He left for Britain in 1957, arriving on a Friday, speaking no English and with just three pounds in his pocket. On the Monday, he joined the British Communist Party. He worked in a rubber factory in Southall, taught himself English and immersed himself in trades unionism; Sharma became a member of the British Communist Party’s Executive Committee from 1971.

Long active in the Indian Workers Association, he was elected President of the Southall Indian Workers Association (IWA) established on 3rd March 1957, by some of the younger more radical elements of the Punjabi community in 1957.

Vishnu Sharma was also Vice-Chair of the Campaign against Racial Discrimination, a founder member and full time worker for the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and a member of the National Council for Commonwealth of Immigrants, the forerunner of the Commission for Racial Equality, from which he resigned in protest at the 1968 Immigration Act.

He was a member of the original Steering Committee of the Anti-Nazi League. The author of a Communist Party pamphlet, “No Racist Immigration Laws” (1979),

Vishnu Sharma died at age of 72 in Delhi after attending a Congress of the Communist Party of India.

Sources: Communist Party pamphlet “No Racist Immigration Laws” 1979; Morning Star May 1st 1992

Ealing Population 1951 non British 333

Ealing Population 1959 1,250 Asian 150 Jamaicans

1965 Strike by Asian Workers at Woolf Rubber Company and Rockware Glass

1973 Strike by Asian workers at Gutterman Textile (Perivale) and Lyons (Greenford)

1976 Strike by Asian workers at Heathrow Catering, Dura Tube Wires, Chibnall Bakeries

1979 Strike by Asian workers at Ealing hospital, St Bernards and Hillingdon

1982 Strike by Asian Workers at Ealing and Hillingdon Hospital

1986 Strike by Asian workers at Privatisation of support services at Hillingdon hospital

1995 Strike by Asian workers at Hillingdon Hospital

1998 strike by Asian workers at Lufthansa Skychef

2005 Strike by Asian Workers at Gate Gourmet and unoffical baggage handlers