The Bloodhouse in the February 1978 edition of Film News
Publisher’s Note: The plight of the migrants in Wollongong depicted in Garry Lane’s film ‘The Bloodhouse’ (shown below) makes me think of refugees fleeing Syria today with the prospect of ending up as cheap labour somewhere in Europe … when they are not being tear gassed at borders, that is.
Humphrey McQueen’s critique in the film of the Federated Iron Workers Union led by Laurie Short is very strong and telling.
I am interested to hear how effective Communists were in union struggles in Wollongong … and how things went after the demise of the Communist Party?
In 1979, I worked in a steel pipe factory (Steel Mains in Montague Road in South Brisbane) where the only union present was the Federated Ironworkers (FIA) … redundancies were accepted by the union and workers were employed as casuals.
I wanted to join the union but the FIA organiser knocked me back because I was a casual. I remember the factory having a huge lunch room, but such was the decline in our numbers that during smoko we were huddled together in one corner of the room.
I would like to think that times are different here but they are not … however if recent changes in southern Europe and Britain are any indication, change may come here too …. but are our union and political organisation too far gone to do something about it? I hope their is a resurgence in worker political organisation again!
Many thanks to Peter Gray from Radical Times Historical Archive for bringing Garry’s excellent film (released in 1976) to light. The documentary can be viewed by scrolling down to the section for New South Wales under thumbnail 1A. And a special thanks to Dave Eden & Nic Southall for putting me straight on the proud history of the Communist party in Woolongong.
The Bloodhouse – a film by Garry Lane (16mm, 24 minutes)
Narration written by Humphrey McQueen (and Garry Lane)
With thanks to Martha Ansara, Chris Tillum, and Larry Zetlin
The film premiered at the Sydney Filmmakers’ Cooperative in 1976
Also available from the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne and the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra.