Know Your Friends, Know Your Enemies – 1977 Latrobe Valley Strike

There are not many films about Australian strikes. This documentary is one of the very few. It tells the story of the Latrobe Valley Power Workers’ Strike in Victoria in 1977.

The response to the strike by the Government and big business was savage. A State of Emergency was declared. The workers were vilified for ‘holding the State to ransom.’ Military intervention in the strike was threatened.

Despite the forces against the workers and their families, the strike built to a strength where it seemed certain to succeed. It had the overwhelming support of workers and the general community all over Australia. It challenged the arbitration and indexation systems.

After nearly 3 months, the strike suddenly failed. This film examines the reason for this defeat by looking at the roles played by key trade union officials representing the workers. The story is told through the eyes of the striking workers and their wives. They piece together why one of the most important strikes of that decade was defeated.

Friends and Enemies expresses the spirit of working people struggling to improve their conditions, tempered by the bitterness of defeat.

A film by Peter Gray and Garry Lane
Music composed and played by Jim Conway and Janie Conway
Narrated by Max Strong
Location Sound by Lou Chin
Format 16mm film

2 thoughts on “Know Your Friends, Know Your Enemies – 1977 Latrobe Valley Strike

  1. 'Good advice' ... says:

    In 1977 Peter Gray and Garry Lane made a film about the Latrobe Valley workers strike. Eight years later Tom Zubrycki made a film about the 1985 SEQEB Dispute. They had similar names ‘Know Your Friends, Know Your Enemies’ (Gray & Lane, 1977) and ‘Friends and Enemies’ (Tom Zubrycki, 1985).

    It is interesting to compare the disputes, both ended in defeat for the workers.

    Know Your Friends Know Your Enemies
    1977 Latrobe Valley Strike
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXAd8zvDDqo&feature=share&list=PL0C9DAC32C637BB4F]

    Friends and Enemies
    1985 SEQEB dispute
    [youtube=http://youtu.be/_P_O6BOYGm4]
    Copyright restrictions prevent WBT from showing all of Tom Zubrycki’s film here. This clip is shown here for educational purposes only. Workers BushTelegraph is a not-for-profit organisation.
    Sources for the full version of Friends and Enemies — go to National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) for other clips of ‘Tom Zubrycki – Friends and Enemies’
    Tom Zubrycki – email tzub@ozemail.com.au

What do you think about this article?