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The Painters and Dockers Strike (1976)


A video made by filmmakers Tom Zubrycki and Russ Hermann, in collaboration with members of the Federated Ship Painters And Dockers Union of Australia, covering the strike over the principle of flow-ons from parent awards.

Curator’s notes

This video picks up eight weeks into a strike that lasted from 18 February to 21 May 1976. The documentary is well structured and provides a clear account of the dispute by using interviews with the various parties concerned and coverage of workers’ meetings. This is interspersed with a ballad that recounts the strike in verse, combined with images of the docks at Garden Island. Zubrycki and Hermann spent a number of weeks shooting interviews and in post-production on this video, something that his earlier works did not have the luxury of benefiting from. The result is a more developed style and structure used in The Painters and Dockers Strike that was developed further in later works such as Friends and Enemies (1987) or Kemira: Diary of a Strike (1984).

The video was shot with an analogue black-and-white video portapak, a technology first developed in 1965 by Sony in the USA that trickled into Australia in the early 1970s. This technology was used by members of the community video movement that Zubrycki was a part of. The work that Zubrycki produced between 1974 and 1979 was made possible by this technology and allowed him to explore community issues that interested him and engaged his background as a sociologist.

While the work that was produced retains a great power and potency thirty years on, the early video format has not fared so well. Due to tape deterioration, there are some drop-outs in this video which appear as white lines across the image.