Ballots

News International ignored the outcome of any ballots held of union members. 

When Rupert Murdoch delivered his ultimatums and negotiations collapsed, the unions - SOGAT, NGA and AUEW - reported back to mass meetings of members, then held ballots for industrial action to protect jobs and conditions. The results were heavily in favour of strike action, averaging more than 80% across the three unions. The company’s response was to refuse any further negotiation, and as the strike began so did the instant dismissal of the 5500 members of the three unions.

Two sets of negotiations during the dispute brought offers of compensation, but no re-instatement and no union recognition. In April 1986 the company offered minimal redundancy pay and part of the former Times and Sunday Times building and printing presses. The unions proposed single bargaining units, annual pay settlements and compulsory arbitration for the settlement of disputes. The company made a slight improvement in the offer but with no re-instatement of any sacked workers and no union recognition. The offer was put to a ballot and overwhelmingly rejected in June 1986.

The company’s response to the ballot result was to take the unions and individual dispute leaders to court over the demonstrations, picketing and boycotting of News International newspapers, despite SOGAT having lifted its instructions to union members to ban work on those titles.

A second set of negotiations started in August 1986. Another final offer appeared that included higher redundancy pay and a non-union works committee with sole bargaining rights on wages and conditions. But again there was no re-instatement and no trade union recognition. In late September a ballot was held and the members of all three unions rejected the offer. Again the company ignored the views of the strikers.

In February 1987, faced with renewed court actions by the company for damages and contempt of court, and amid great acrimony among the members as no ballot was held, SOGAT decided to end the dispute, followed by the NGA and AUEW.

During the dispute, ballots were conducted for a levy of the entire memberships of SOGAT and the NGA in order to raise additional funds and to help with hardship among the strikers. The NGA secured a result in favour of a levy. SOGAT balloted several months later but failed to secure membership support.