National Textiles – One Hundred Cents In The Dollar

Australian Workers Film Guide


A conservative anti-union prime minister, a prime minister’s brother presiding over a bankrupt company and 350 workers denied their full entitlements makes for a fascinating tale in Australian industrial relations. Hot on the heels of the Oakdale coal mine entitlement dispute, this documentary recounts the 2000 landmark National Textiles dispute to retrieve over 11 million dollars in employee entitlements at the Rutherford Mill in New South Wales. The film highlights the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union’s successful campaign to embarrass and pressure Prime Minister John Howard over his brother Stan Howard’s role as chairman of the bankrupt company, emphasizing the class nature of corporate behaviour surrounding company management and insolvency. 

The film shows extensive footage of the 24 hour picket line at the factory’s gates, interviews with workers, union officials and journalists, as well as coverage of campaign tactics, organization and wider community and union solidarity in support of the sacked workers.

The Prime Minister engages in a cat and mouse game as he unsuccessfully tries to elude the workers intent on a meeting. There is extensive use of news media coverage featuring John Howard and his brother, including accusations of corruption when the Howard Government finally decides to pay the lost entitlements from taxpayer funds. Some choice clips are cricket player Glenn McGrath snubbing John Howard as he accepts a prestigious award, and Stan Howard’s infamous words to camera stating, “If you adopt a situation where directors are personally liable for company debts, you’d have no directors.” The film concludes with details of an inadequate government Safety Net Scheme to protect workers entitlements more broadly.

Special Notes/Achievements

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 59 mins

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