Bunhill: Digging in

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The Independent Online
EVER felt like seeing Rupert Murdoch in the flesh? Well, the great man is being summoned to make an appearance tomorrow at, of all places, an industrial tribunal hearing in Manchester.

The tribunal will hear the case of 34 long-distance lorry drivers who broke the Wapping picket lines for him back in 1986. They are claiming unfair dismissal from TNT, the road haulier and their former employer. They lost their jobs after TNT, allegedly under pressure from News International, renegotiated their contracts.

Early legal skirmishes have centred on the existence, or lack of it, of a written contract between Murdoch and TNT, who jointly own Ansett, the Australian airline. The drivers have been told by TNT that if they do not accept its existence, Murdoch will fly from America to give evidence - possibly at their expense. Tony Holmes, who earned pounds 28,000 a year, four days on, four days off, hauling newspapers from Wapping to northern England, recalled the early nights of the dispute: 'I used to look down at one particular printer in the picket line almost every night and he used to call up to me, 'He'll do it to you, one day, driver.' Well, my day did come. All I have left is the court case. I don't know how we'll raise the money, but I couldn't bear to miss it.'