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Video Clip Synopsis:
The manager of a clothing factory explains how, in Australia, his shirt costs 42c a minute while in China it costs 1c a minute. Australia in it’s desire to compete with Asian Tigers means workers are pushed to the limit, like never before.

1min 36sec

Competing with Asian Clothing Tigers is an excerpt from the film Land of the Long Weekend (55 mins), produced in 1994.

Land of the Long Weekend: Australia was the first country in the world to institute a 40-hour working week. It was the first to say there was such a thing as a fair and reasonable wage. Conditions like these helped win Australia its reputation as the mythical land of the long weekend. Yet today, for those with work, overtime has increased and penalty rates are disappearing. The nation’s population is increasingly divided between the over-worked and the under-employed. Now that Australia is more the land of the level playing field than the land of the long weekend, have we abandoned the idea of the “fair go”?

Land of the Long Weekend is a Film Australia National Interest Program.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: Health/PE
Year: 9-10
Strand: The health of individuals and the community
Theme: Health Work

Key Concepts

Working hours, working conditions, regulations, economics

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Health and Physical Education: Health of individuals and populations
NSW:Personal Development, Health and Physical Education: Personal awareness, Personal choice, Promoting health.
NT:Health and Physical Education: Promoting Individual and Community Health HP 5.1, 5+.1
Qld:Health and Physical Education: Health of individuals and communities 6.1, 6.5, DB6.1
SA:Health and Physical Education: 5.4, 5.6
Tas:Personal Futures: Maintaining wellbeing
Vic:Health and Physical Education: The health of individuals and populations 6.1, 6.2, 6.4
WA:Health and Physical Education: self management skills, Interpersonal skills

Context / Background Information

Australia's manufacturing industry was a major employer during the twentieth century.

For most of this time much manufacturing was 'protected' — that is, there were rules which meant that cheaper imports, such as clothing, had to pay an extra tax, a tariff, to enter the country. This lifted their retail price and meant that the Australian-made equivalent, usually costing more because of the better wages and working conditions available to Australian workers, remained competitive. It also meant that factories continued to produce goods, employing Australian workers.

An increasing belief in globalisation has meant that Australian governments have embraced the idea of the 'level playing field' — or the abolition of protection. The idea is that this will benefit those areas where Australia is competitive at world standards and can export its goods more cheaply; but it also means that those industries where Australia is un-competitive without special support will increasingly fail.

One such area is clothing manufacturing.

Discussion Pointers

Discuss what students know about regulations in the workplace. What rights do workers have and what rights do management have?

Discuss unionism and what it means to the students.

Discuss the ‘Buy Australian’ campaign. What benefit does it have for Australia as a whole and for individuals? Are Australian-made products generally more expensive? What does Australian-made really mean?

Discuss workplace stress. Do students feel stress at work or at school? Do their parents feel stressed by work? What are some of the mechanisms for coping with stress?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Before watching the clip, find out what is meant by the following terms: Asian tiger, level playing field, land of the long weekend, unionised work force, sweat shop.
  2. Make a survey of the clothes in your wardrobe and/or that of other members of your family. Note down the description (ie shirt, pants, underwear, jacket etc) and the country in which it was made (Home-made clothing counts as Australian). Calculate the percentage of your clothing that came from each country. Compare your results with the rest of the class. Combine the results to work out the percentage of Australian-made clothing owned by the class.
  3. Write down all the things that cause stress (stressors) in your life. Is this stress caused by someone else who is also stressed and under pressure? Write down the symptoms you suffer when you are stressed. Write down your strategies for coping with stress and discuss them with your friends.
  4. Find out about the average hours worked by Australians and how this has changed over time. Go to the Australian Bureau of Statistics website at and search for “longer working hours”.
  5. Find out more about Australia’s average wage, which has recently gone over $1000 per week in three states.
    • Are more or less people on the average wage?
    • How is the average wage related to the ‘cost of living’?
    • Do you think Australians are ‘pricing themselves out of the market’?
  6. Find out about the Labour Day Public Holiday (long weekend). When was it established and what does it celebrate?

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, Health/PE Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 9-10