Life On The Picket

Australian Workers Film Guide


A grassroots film documenting life on the picket line during a 51 week strike at the Vickery coal mine in western New South Wales, which commenced in August 1995. The bitter and protracted strike was a result of management plans to replace 8 hour shifts with 12 hour shifts. Pitted against Rio Tinto’s then subsidiary CRA, a company with a long tradition of union busting, the struggle became a test case for mineworkers and unions across the country.

Largely filmed and narrated by one of the striking miners, the film records daily life on remote picket line dubbed ‘Fort Vickery’, which includes footage of meetings, visits by other unionists, interactions with police and attempts to break the picket line, entertainment and family on the picket, as well as a speech by legendary unionist Jim Comerford.  Away from the picket line, the film also records protests outside a court in Sydney, a May Day march in Newcastle and a shareholders’ meeting in Melbourne. The film also references the dangerous nature of mining with the unveiling of a plaque of a local miner killed in the mine, as well as a ceremony at the Cessnock Memorial Wall.

Special Notes/Achievements

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 105 mins

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