Strikers and their unions
The three print and media unions and the London Branch of the AUEW and Press Branch of the EETPU worked tirelessly for the sacked workers and their families. In addition to the huge commitment from the resources of SOGAT, NGA and NUJ at national level, branches financed support for strikers, for demonstrations, pickets and publicity. Fleet Street and general trade chapels dug as deep as for the miners the year previously. Holidays, days out and Christmas events were organised for the children of strikers. Chapels encouraged family members to help by becoming involved in the boycott campaign pasting up stickers and distributing the anti-Murdoch “funny money”.
While the discipline and organisation of the individual chapels remained intact regular joint committees and FOCS/MOCs (union representatives) meetings were held to organise, discuss and plan dispute action and events. Reports of the latest developments were given at mass meetings of strikers where they were able to question union officials, discuss ways to prosecute the dispute and where strike payments were made. Men and women were recruited from among the strikers to travel the country and abroad to raise support and donations and to keep the iniquities of Murdoch’s action before the general public.
Picket shift rotas were drawn up for Wapping and the depots. The huge number of arrests meant funding was required for lawyers, court appearances and tracing witnesses. An operations room staffed by strikers provided constant advice and information for strikers and their supporters.
Chapels helped those in financial difficulties and assisted members who became sick or depressed.
Personal tragedy in the shape of family break-ups and illness followed the pattern of an epic struggle. There were other tragedies too: the little daughter of two strikers who fell to her death at a union meeting, a young resident killed by a TNT truck at Wapping and other strikers who were struck down either by fatal illness or by suicide.
There were many heroes at Wapping who proved that they stood for much more than wages and conditions; strikers who were fighting for their jobs and to retain workers’ right to picket, to strike and to regain the right to influence their conditions at work through collective bargaining by responsible and effective trade unions.