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21 April  
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1955: Fleet Street papers back after strike
National newspapers have been published for the first time in nearly a month following the end of the maintenance workers' strike.

The stoppage was called off following an agreement on Tuesday night between electricians' and engineers' unions and the Newspaper Proprietors' Association.

The 700 maintenance men, who take care of the newspaper printing machinery, had been striking for a wage increase of just over �a week.

The unions have not accepted the employers' latest offer but have agreed to return to work pending further negotiations, which are due to start within eight weeks.

The strike has kept newspapers based in the industry's traditional home of Fleet Street in central London off the presses for 26 days and cost the industry �.

One of the few national papers to be unaffected by the strike was the Guardian which is printed in Manchester.

Benefits

The absence of the Fleet Street papers has affected about 23,000 people in related industries.

The lack of newspaper sports pages led to a drop in business for bookmakers.

Some said they were doing only 5% of their normal trade because gamblers could not get information on dog and horse races.

However, some sectors have benefited from the absence of national newspapers.

The head of W H Smith's station book stalls, C J Williams, said there had been a run on paperback novels and magazines.

He said: "Never was there such a rapid sale for magazines. For the cheap editions of books we had to scour London."

American papers such as the New York Times have also been flown in to stop the gap.

Public libraries have also seen an increase in loans - libraries in Hampstead in west London reported a jump of 10% in borrowing over the past month.

Big news events the Fleet Street papers have missed included Sir Winston Churchill's resignation, the Budget and the announcement of a general election.

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Man buying paper from news seller
The strike has cost the newspaper industry �million



In Context
The widespread effects and huge cost of the strike demonstrated the power the unions held over the newspaper industry.

It would not be broken for another 30 years when Rupert Murdoch - owner of the Sun and the Times - moved his papers from Fleet Street to a new hi-tech plant in Wapping.

New technology introduced at Wapping resulted in 4,000 print and maintenance workers losing their jobs.

In spite of months of vociferous picketing of the Wapping plant by unions Rupert Murdoch was able to produce and distribute his papers at a vastly reduced cost.

Mr Murdoch's success encouraged other newspapers to adopt new technology and leave Fleet Street for cheaper premises and lower labour costs in east London.

Stories From 21 Apr


 
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