An exhibition and new publication was launched this week, which tells the Workers' Story of the watershed Wapping dispute. The exhibition is being hosted at the Marx Memorial Library in London's Clerkenwell Green. The library also hosts the Printers' Collection, the most comprehensive collection of print worker and trade union memorabilia in Europe. You can visit by appointment.

The opening was hosted by Ann Field, strike leader, Tony Burke national secretary for manufacturing of UNITE, as well as general secretaries of the then NGA and SOGAT, Tony Dubbins and Brenda Dean. We reproduce here, the speech of Tony Newbery who, as a young activist, took part in the strike and is now a well known UNITE official for print workers.

Twenty five years on, the exhibition launch uncannily coincides with another Royal Wedding, Murdoch seeking to take over BSkyB and the phone tapping scandal in which News International senior staff intercepted phone messages of individuals right up to the level of cabinet member. It is well worth a visit and the Workers' Story, written and artworked by those involved in the dispute, tells the story of that key struggle.

This is Tony Newbery's speech.

 

" We the workers went on strike 
 
The employer Murdoch knowing Wapping was to be a watershed for our industry and now with the capacity to print most or if all national papers.
 
We faced ...
 
the full force of the state
 
Thatcher government repressive anti union laws still shamefully in place despite 4 terms of Labour
 
The police who brutalised  us to give safe passage to Murdoch’s scab distribution tnt    
 
Connivance of Hammond and his scab electricians trained by news international driven into Wapping on caged buses, lying on their stomachs.
 
Despite all odds we fought for our union and our industry ...
 
as did the London wholesale workers who stood by the executive decision not to distribute Murdoch’s papers.
 
the chapels and workers who supported us financially and physically,
 
So we could survive.
 
So too the support of Local residents in Wapping which had become a police state.
 
We took to picketing
 
Wapping, Grays inn rd, Bouvrie st, Manchester, Glasgow Kinning Park
 
Sometimes there were 'flying' pickets
 
Tnt depots
 
Scarborough... to the EEPTU cordoned by Yorkshire police
 
Labour party and TUC conferences
 
Sadly we had to picket our own leadership within SOGAT and the executive
 
Murdoch’s printing empire was under siege for over a year 
 
We picketed the fortress 
 
We were effective
 
 
The demonstrations and blocking of the Highway on Wednesdays and Saturdays
 
Daytime picket of the fortress 
 
Facing the police horses the baton charges 
 
Organised by us the strikers at our meetings   
 
There was the Boycott campaign
 
We had the support of the Morning Star and Wapping Post and Picket
 
They were a lifeline to us on strike. 
 
In the fight against Murdoch and News International
 
The camaraderie that existed...of  printers,  lady cleaners,  proof readers,  comps, Fleet st branch engineers, London press branch of EETPU and clerical workers, and of Warehouse men was second to none
 
Here we were ordinary working men and woman  
 
Galvanising solidarity in workplaces:  post offices, bus garages, hospitals, Trade council’s,  CLPs,  fire fighters...
addressing mass meetings and rallies
 
There was international support from as far away as Australia to Ireland
 
Support groups sprung up such as Woman Against Murdoch
 
We were organised, politicised and by some criticised
 
To say we had no support was a myth coming straight out of a sun editorial
 
Thatcher’s sound bite there was a north-south divide as the Tories rampaged through communities
 
Unfortunately someone applied it to our cause  
 
But I experienced solidarity first hand in South Kirby, Yorkshire where whole communities came to show us support
 
Through our chapels & branch we fought Murdoch for over a year
 
Our struggle came mighty close we were made offers to end the dispute
 
And by ballot we turned the offer down
 
Our message was we fight on we have nowhere else to go
 
In my experience I witnessed and felt the solidarity that existed 25 years ago
 
I was privileged to witness it again on 26 March 2011 when 500,000 plus marched in defence of our nhs and schools, libraries, public services and communities
 
Against the sameTtory ideals to destroy trade unions 
 
As they tried to destroy us the print workers, gathered again here today, they did not succeed then and they will not now
 
I'm sure this exhibition will be an inspiration to all in struggle
 
And for the future generations who will carry the torch
 
The courage and determination that saw us through
 
This is the tribute to the strikers and thir families
 
The pickets and supporters
 
This is our story, it's The Workers' Story