Wapping – the Workers’ Story
During the 1986 battle between News International and the print trade unions, the strikers were
sustained by the solidarity of thousands of workers in the UK and abroad. In this country, 50 Print
Workers’ Support Groups were set up, some of them directly linked to local Trades Councils
which played a key role, organising public meetings, raising money to sustain the strikers and
picketing sites connected with News International.
We are now appealing to Trades Councils and others for donations towards the completion
of: ‘Wapping – the workers’ story’ a film about the momentous year-long industrial dispute which
began when Rupert Murdoch plotted to move production of his papers overnight from central
London’s Fleet Street to a secretly equipped and heavily guarded plant at Wapping, a docklands
district in east London.
5,500 men and women lost their jobs and centuries of tradition in one of London’s last manufacturing
industries came to an end.
Military-style police tactics, the use of new laws which shackled the unions’ hard won freedoms and
strike-breaking organised by the electricians union led to a Murdoch victory.
The dispute had international ramifications for Murdoch’s expanding press and broadcasting empire in
the United States and around the world.
It took place as the Thatcher government broke with the post-war consensus and embraced
monetarism – deregulating finance, privatising key industries and undermining local democracy.
Ken Loach has written this about the film: ‘We need to know the story of the print workers’ battle against Murdoch. We can understand our enemies and see our strengths. Chris Reeves is a fine film maker and a true friend of the workers movement. I know this film will be good and necessary. Please help get it made.’
Ann Field (retired Unite print sector national officer and a founder member of the News International Dispute Archive) said: ‘From the 1980s conspiracy to get rid of an entire workforce of 5,500 workers to the notorious phone hacking and corruption scandals 30 years later – this film exposes the deep-seated and enduring immorality at the heart of the Murdoch-led News International empire. Please help to finance the completion of this film to ensure a wider audience learns of the impact on the workers, their unions and the media.’
Tony Burke (Unite Assistant General Secretary ) said: ‘During the dispute between the print unions and Rupert Murdoch’s News International in 1986 the media provided only fragments of the real issues at stake and virtually nothing of the effects on the sacked workers, their families and our unions. Only a small number newspapers supported our members.
Unite are proud to be associated with this film to tell the real story of the workers’ struggle with Murdoch, the police, the Tory Government and the right wing media.
Your donation and support will help to ensure the film is completed and the voices of working people and those directly involved is available to set the record straight.’
The documentary is being made with the News International Dispute Archive group whose publications, website and travelling exhibition have given a voice to the sacked workers and their families.
We have filmed 20 interviews with sacked printworkers and the ‘refusenik’ journalists who joined them, and have made a rough cut of the film. But we need £ 20,500 (£4,000 for editing, £2,500 for on-line editing, and £14,000 for archive material transfers and copyright clearance).
We would appreciate any support you can provide. All donors will receive a DVD and be credited in the final film.