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About the Video Clip:

Video Clip Synopsis:
Female migrant workers discuss the pain in their hands after long hours of sewing and repetitive factory work.

2min 5sec

Repetitious Work Affects Migrant Women is an excerpt from the film Teno (10 mins),

produced in 1984.

Teno looks at a widespread workplace illness, tenosynovitis - a crippling and often misunderstood disease. The nature of modern work practices can inadvertently lead to the illness, which mostly strikes women, since they predominantly work in jobs requiring repetitious activity. This is especially evident among migrant workers. The program also considers the responsibility of both employers and employees.

Teno was produced by the Women’s Film Unit for Film Australia.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: English
Year: 9-10
Theme: Civic Work

Key Concepts

Rights and responsibilities; Fair and reasonable society; Unions

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Everyday texts – Language: Contextual understanding
NSW:(1997 Syllabus) C5 Mass media
(2003 Syllabus) Stage 5 Outcome 4
NT:R/V 5.1 – 5.3
R/V 5+.1-5+.3
Qld:Cr 6.2
SA:Texts and contexts 5.3
Tas:Communicating – Being literate, Standard 4
Vic:Reading – Texts 6.6
WA:Understanding Language
Attitudes, values and beliefs

Context / Background Information

During the 1980s Australia had many small manufacturing workshops, usually located in the major capital cities.

A large proportion of the workers in these factories and workshops were migrant women.

The jobs often involved repetitive manual work in poor conditions.

Unions had won equal pay for women, but traditionally women's manual work was paid the lowest wage possible. There was also sometimes pressure on women workers to work at below-award rates.

Women often worked at home or in places where unionism was weak, and conditions and pay were below the minimum required.

Increasing competition from developing countries with low wage-rates often meant that there was great pressure on local manufacturing industries to produce goods in greater quantities at lower costs. Such jobs and conditions were accepted by many because the alternative was not to work at all.

Discussion Pointers

  1. What is the image of work that is presented in this video clip?
  2. How is that image achieved? (Consider such things as what is said, editing techniques, the use of close-ups.)
  3. Who do you think would be the intended audience for this video clip?
  4. What do you think was the filmmaker’s purpose in creating this video clip? Do you think it is a successful video clip? Explain your reasons.
  5. This film is clearly ‘partisan’ — it is presenting its ideas in a way that supports a particular view. Does it do this effectively? Explain your reasons.
  6. The film is very critical of some of the values that result in the poor conditions being described. What are these values as presented in the video clip? Why are they themselves harmful?
  7. The workers presented are female and many are immigrants. Discuss why these two groups might be so significant in this problem area.

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Imagine that a responsible and fair employer, concerned about the image of work and employees that is presented in this video clip, wants to respond to it.
    • Select some key comments / messages / ideas that could be given in response. For example, it might be a statement such as ‘Most employers strictly apply all health and safety rules in their workplaces.’
    • Formulate at least three comments/ messages/ideas and choose the best point in the film in which to insert a statement.
    • In each case, insert each new comment/message/idea where it would have the greatest impact and the greatest chance of influencing the viewer.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, Health/PE Year 7-8, Science Year 7-8