There are not many films about Australian strikes. This documentary is one of the very few. It tells the story of the Latrobe Valley SEC Power Workers' Strike in Victoria, Australia, in August, September and October, 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 other workers and the general community all over Australia. It also challenged the arbitration and indexation systems.
After nearly 3 months, the strike suddenly failed. 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 did not succeed. Friends and Enemies expresses the spirit of working people struggling to improve their conditions, tempered by the bitterness of defeat.
Despite the outcome, the strike had a profound effect on the future of the Latrobe Valley. It served to instigate a wide range of positive changes and improvements for the workers in the decade to follow.
A film by Peter Gray and Garry Lane
Music composed and played by Jim Conway and Janie Conway
Narrated by Max Strong (shop steward)
Location Sound by Lou Chin
Format 16mm film