The Strike

News International began sacking 5500 of its permanent staff and hundreds of regular casuals and temporary workers within half an hour of the strike beginning. All work on The Times, The Sunday Times, The  Sun and News of the World was immediately switched to Wapping. Journalists at The Sun, who were offered a £2,000 bribe by the company, voted by 100 to eight to go to Wapping. The other journalists’ chapels followed after lengthy debates; NUJ members who defied the instruction to move, the “refuseniks”, were sacked with the rest of the workforce.

EETPU-organised strike-breaking labour produced the newspapers inside the plant, as the sacked workers picketed outside. Print union members in companies handling material for Murdoch’s papers banned News International work. Printworkers in Manchester stopped working on the News of the World, whose northern editions were printed there under contract.

Effective sympathy action and picketing were challenged immediately by News International, securing court decisions forbidding all solidarity action within days of the dispute starting and threatening all unions involved.

Demonstrators and pickets tried to prevent speeding TNT lorries leaving the Wapping plant.

London wholesale workers banned NI newspapers. Print union members and supporters picketed the wholesale depots, the new TNT depots outside London and the new NI printing plant at Kinning Park in Glasgow.    

Two sets of negotiations during the year brought offers of compensation, but no re-instatement and no union recognition. The offers were balloted and rejected. The fight was for jobs and union rights, and the struggle continued to the last.

Despite the court ban on effective picketing and SOGAT having purged its contempt during the summer, picketing and demonstrations continued until February 1987.  Amid great acrimony and under threat of further legal action, first SOGAT and then the NGA decided to call off the dispute.  An offer of compensation was recommended by the unions and accepted by members.

None of the strikers was re-instated and the company has maintained its refusal to recognise the print and media unions. News International titles remained with TNT and all other national newspaper distribution was transferred from rail to road during 1988. Production transferred to a new site north of London in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire in 2008. The editorial and administrative offices will move across the Thames to London Bridge in 2014 together with other publishing companies in the News UK group as NI was renamed in 2013.