WAPPING DISPUTE. Murdoch’s New Technology: The Sack. [London]: A Morning Star Poster, [c.1986].



Murdoch’s New Technology: The Sack.
[London]: A Morning Star Poster, [c.1986].

Original poster (760 × 508 mm / 29.92 × 20 in). Titles and illustration screen printed in blue on glossy white stock; light handling marks with occasional light crease and soiling. In excellent condition.

In 1981 Rupert Murdoch’s News International bought The Times and The Sunday Times from the Thomson Corporation. The following year they began to phase out the traditional hot-metal Linotype printing process that had been in use since the 19th century, replacing it with computer input and photo-composition. Following many years of disruptive disputes with the print unions, in March 1985 Murdoch used the launch of a fictitious evening newspaper called The London Post as a cover which enabled him to fit out a warehouse in Wapping with new technology that would allow journalists to input text directly into a centralised computer system.

In October 1985 he announced plans to move editorial and production facilities for two of his newspapers, The Sun and the now defunct News of the World, from Fleet Street to Wapping. On 24 January 1986, after talks broke down, thousands of members of the National Graphical Association (NGA) and the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades (SOGAT) trade unions went on strike.

Overnight Murdoch dismissed these workers and moved all of his British newspapers: The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun, and the News of the World to the new site, bringing in members of the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union (EETPU) to keep the presses going. The ensuing dispute was one of the most bitter and protracted in Britain’s industrial history, lasting a year until February 1987 by which time the unions were near bankruptcy. Throughout the dispute, News International did not miss a single night of production.

By 1988 all of the other national newspapers in Britain had followed Murdoch’s lead, moving away from Fleet Street to the newly developed Docklands area and to cheaper computerised production and printing technology.


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