Wapping dispute exhibition
WhenFriday 9 January 2015
From 9 January to 13 February.
Friday-Monday 10am-5.30pm; Tuesday-Thursday by appointment.
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St Bride Foundation, Bride Lane, Fleet Street, London EC4Y 8EQ
Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers stand accused of debasing the British media.
Revelations of industrial-scale phone hacking at the News of the World and corruption of the police and national politics have laid bare the malign influence and power of a global media empire.
That power was accumulated over 30 years but the crucial episode was the year-long Wapping dispute. When negotiations broke down and the strike began in January 1986, Murdoch shifted production of the papers overnight to a new, non-union printworks, sacking the existing production and administration workforce of 5,500 employees.
Supported by the Tory government and its anti-union laws, Murdoch’s vast resources had enabled the company to equip and staff the Docklands plant in secret, with strike-breaking labour recruited by the electricians’ union in an act of treachery unparalleled in labour movement history.
The High Court ordered the sequestration of the funds of SOGAT, the largest union involved, when distribution workers in London refused to handle Murdoch’s papers. Other unions were ordered by the courts to refrain from solidarity action and fined for contempt.
More than 1,400 strikers and supporters were arrested, six were jailed and hundreds injured during demonstrations and picketing. Complaints of police brutality and unwarranted arrests led to an inquiry that described police actions as violent and undisciplined.
For the first time since the dispute ended in early 1987, the story is being told from the point of view of the sacked workers and their trade unions. The Exhibition and the booklet “The Workers’ Story” offer graphic accounts of the determined resistance of the sacked printworkers and the “refusenik” journalists who joined them.
Further details and contact information
Telephone: 07831 676587