Timeline

1969

Murdoch buys News of the World and later The Sun.

1976

Programme for Action, jointly developed plan promoted by employers and print union leaders to deal with industry problems related to jobs, costs and new technology, rejected by union members.

1978

Murdoch acquires Wapping site.

1978/79

Thomson-owned Times Newspapers lock out all staff except journalists and managers; no newspapers produced for eleven months.

1980

Building work starts at Wapping.

1981

Murdoch buys Times Newspapers for £12m.

1983

First negotiations for the planned move to Wapping but progress is slow.

1984

Video of new plant at Wapping shown to The Sun and News of the World FOCs; platemaking chapels reach agreement on move to Wapping, but management suspend talks; AUEW chapel also reports agreement in principle. Murdoch obtains US citizenship.

1985

February: Electricians’ union (EETPU) officials meet Murdoch in “first of a long series of highly secret meetings”; Murdoch plans secretly for Wapping transfer and orders equipment valued at £10m.

EETPU tells Murdoch their members can install, maintain and operate machinery; no document ever formally signed so able to deny agreement.

March: Computer typesetting equipment installed secretly in Woolwich location for testing.

Murdoch sets up shadow companies so that concerted industrial action would be secondary and therefore illegal.

June: NI signs deed of indemnity authorising TNT to buy £7m-worth of vehicles and recruit personnel; rumours in Southampton of jobs in a big London print company paying good money and queues at the local EETPU office for application forms for the jobs; 4,000 yards of razor wire installed at Wapping.

July: Eric Hammond article in The Sun defending strike-free agreements; recruitment of replacement labour starts via EETPU in Southampton and Glasgow.

August: SOGAT issues statement saying company had assured union no-one working at Wapping was being trained in SOGAT jobs.

September: Dummy run of The London Post at Wapping. Chapel reps seek explanation from management about the newspaper; management deny knowledge of developments at Wapping; deny request for a visit; eventually agree to a meeting; candidates interviewed for jobs at the The London Post; print unions and EETPU meet with the company; Murdoch states intention to continue to test presses and publishing equipment at Wapping, says talks must conclude by mid-December.

October: Murdoch and NI managers meet unions to resume formal negotiations.

November: Draft agreement for The London Post presented by management setting out twelve impossible demands; print unions put counter-proposals; NI tables document for computer input for advertising and editorial; unions agree to negotiate.

December: EETPU rejects participation in joint union approach, tells TUC and Murdoch it did not rule out legally binding agreements; company refuses to move from demands and sets Christmas Eve deadline for agreement; company denies agreement with TNT; the four unions (SOGAT, NGA, AUEW and NUJ) present 30-page complaint to TUC about the EETPU; EETPU says no fundamental objections to Murdoch's demands.

1986

January: NI gives six months' notice of termination of all agreements; mass meetings of union members; mandate for industrial action recommended and agreed; ballots arranged.

January 19: Section for The Sunday Times printed at Wapping.

January 20: Union proposals including binding arbitration, commitment on profitability, efficiency, productivity and job flexibility and fewer bargaining units rejected by Murdoch. BBC Panorama programme shows EETPU collusion with Wapping preparations. Police issue Commissioner's Directions for the closure of roads in the Wapping area.

January 23: Ballot results show 82 per cent for strike; Murdoch tells unions jobs to be cut from 5500 to 1500 by June with no unions or union members; police move cars from surrounding streets at Grays Inn Road and encircle Times Newspapers buildings with metal barriers.

January 24: Unions declare strike; company issues dismissal letters to all print union members and starts production at Wapping. Journalists told to work at Wapping; The Sun NUJ chapel votes 100-8 to move to Wapping despite NUJ instructions; in solidarity with the sacked workers some, “the refuseniks”, decide not to go.

January 25: The Sunday Times and News of the World produced at Wapping; News of the World printed at Kinning Park, Glasgow; SOGAT members in Manchester refuse to print News of the World northern edition; first picket at Wapping.

January 26: The Times and The Sunday Times journalists vote to move, some join refuseniks; The Times and The Sun printed at Wapping; SOGAT wholesale members in London ban distribution of the titles.

January 27: Sequestration threat to SOGAT over Manchester action; SOGAT fined £10,000 and ordered to stop the picketing following ban on handling NI titles by wholesale workers.

January 28: TUC General Council holds six-hour investigation into the print unions’ complaint after voting to start disciplinary proceedings against the EEPTU.

January 29: Company obtains injunction ordering TGWU to lift instruction to TNT drivers not to cross picket lines.

February: Scottish courts ban SOGAT from threatening distribution of titles.

February 4: Morning Star publishes leaked letter from Farrer & Co, NI's solicitors, confirming advice to dismiss workforce while participating in a strike.

February 5: TUC General Council finds EETPU guilty of five out of seven charges, tells EETPU to desist recruitment and not to conclude deal with Murdoch, or face suspension.

February 8: 3000 on women's march at Wapping, 62 arrests; rallies and meetings elsewhere.

February 10: SOGAT funds and assets (£17m) seized (sequestrated); court imposes £25,000 fine for "flagrant contempt" for instruction to ban handling of Murdoch titles.

February 14: NGA fined £25,000 for contempt over ban on out-of-house supplements for The Times, re-ballots members and re-imposes ban; TGWU persuades Murdoch to discuss TNT dispute with ACAS.

February 15: 3000 on Wapping march; riot equipment and horses used for the first time; 61 arrests; ITN camera crew attacked by police.

February 17: TNT driver reveals bribes to drivers to break picket lines.

March: High Court seizes SOGAT cars and facilities and warns offices will be closed down unless union purges its contempt; print union leaders talk with management following mediation by TUC; Tower Hamlets and Southwark Councils boycott Murdoch papers; at a Wembley rally, Kinnock pledges to repeal anti-union laws and says "Stalag Wapping is about power and authority, not about new technology"; 7000 at largest demo to date delays papers by five hours. NGA General Secretary among 52 arrested.

April: Strikers' delegation to Australia to meet print unions; Murdoch offers unions part of Gray's Inn Road site for own publication; offer rejected; Printworkers' March for Jobs starts from Glasgow; national TUC-supported rally and demonstration in London; NCCL (Liberty) publishes report critical of police behaviour and road blocks; NI offers sacked staff ex-gratia payment to cover hardship with 21-day deadline to accept; mass meetings of strikers discuss the offer.

May: 10,000 on May Day march; 30 arrests; two days later Printworkers’ March for Jobs leads 15,000 on march to Wapping; attacks by mounted and riot police; 100 demonstrators injured, 81 arrests; MPs call for public enquiry; SOGAT purges contempt; Murdoch offer deadline extended;

Commons debate on May Day events; Home Office minister meets unions to discuss policing strategy; Murdoch offers £15m and Gray's Inn Road premises again; offers rejected by members; Wapping Post launched; mass meeting of SOGAT members votes to continue picketing at depots, step up demonstrations and continue boycott campaign.

June: NGA members agree levy; Sun journalists vote to stop working at Wapping but rescind decision following pay rise and promise of sports facilities; Murdoch announces hardship fund for sacked print workers; Home Secretary calls on unions to stop picketing; another Commons debate on policing; SOGAT national conference reaffirms support for the dispute; Writs against unions and members to end mass picketing at Wapping, TNT and wholesale depots; EETPU officials meet Murdoch in Los Angeles; NUJ national executive twice votes on motions to instruct journalists to walk out and join the dispute, both times narrowly defeated by one vote, but disciplinary proceedings taken under rule against 500 members for working on at Wapping.

July: Government acts to stop local authorities boycotting titles under Public Libraries and Museums Act; "Alternative Royal Wedding" event organized by strikers, print unions and supporters.

September: TUC Conference instructs EETPU not to do print workers' jobs, criticises General Council for not taking stronger action; new offer increases compensation from £50m to £60m; unions ballot members, who again reject it.

October: NI journalists barred from Labour Party Conference; The End of the Street, written by Linda Melvern, reveals details of conspiracy to establish Wapping without the print unions.

November: SOGAT calls for national levy on members to help with costs of strike but defeated in a ballot; new compensation offer from the company; British Rail sues NI for breach of contract for switching distribution to TNT; The Guardian prints leaked company memo revealing agreement with EETPU officials in summer 1985; TUC General Council votes not to implement Congress decision about EETPU.

December: SOGAT picket leader Mike Hicks sentenced to 12 months with eight months suspended; 4000 march to Wapping; "Women Against Murdoch" group organises Christmas Day demo and party at Wapping.

1987

January: Local resident Michael Delaney killed by TNT lorry; first anniversary demo, 20,000 take part; violent charges and attacks by 1100 mounted and riot police; 68 demonstrators arrested, 65 convicted; company seeks re-sequestration claiming SOGAT still in contempt.

February: SOGAT ends dispute, followed by NGA and AUEW; members recommended to apply for the compensation scheme.

July: Murdoch acquires Today from Eddy Shah, closing it in 1995.

September: Haldane Society issues report on policing of demonstration of January 24.

1988

September: EETPU expelled by TUC for no-strike deals.

1989

Charges of perjury, assault and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice against 24 Metropolitan police officers following investigation by Northamptonshire Police into 440 complaints against 100 officers; only two eventually tried but jury failed to deliver a verdict; Sky TV launched with the benefit of profits from the Wapping move.

1990

Police Complaints Board report exonerates majority of police but finds senior officers had failed to control junior officers who behaved in a "violent, undisciplined and uncontrolled manner".