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RETRENCHED ILLAWARRA BONDS & KING GEE WORKERS LAUNCH
AN EXHIBITION TELLING ABOUT LIFE BEFORE AND AFTER
THE FACTORY GATES SHUT
Work on the Line: the workers who made Bonds and King Gee in the Illawarra is an exhibition of stories, photographs, ceramics and film of nearly 300 workers retrenched from Pacific Brands’ King Gee in Bellambi in July 2009 and Bonds in Unanderra in March 2010.
The exhibition will be launched on Wednesday 15 June 2011 at the Wollongong City Gallery.
It is produced by the Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA) and is supported by the City of Wollongong. It pays tribute to workers of Bonds and King Gee following the closure of the manufacturing sites and the company’s shift of production from Australia to overseas.
What is the reality behind a brand, an image, an iconic symbol?
In the case of famous Australian brands, Bonds and King Gee, the predominantly female workforce was vibrant, diverse, courageous, hardworking and loyal.
The shock announcement by their employer Pacific Brands was life changing.
The stories are about real people, families, communities abandoned by companies focused on profit. The stories are of Australian post war migrants, blue-collar towns, mounting pressure, power, births, deaths, tears and laughter.
The language of work and life, friendship and comraderie rises above the noise and pace of machines.
It stands apart from price of products and rings true as an authentic, powerful and passionate voice of workers.
Work on the Line will be launched at 6.00pm on Wednesday 15 June 2011 at Wollongong City Gallery, Cnr Kembla & Burelli Sts, Wollongong NSW. This is a unique exhibition not to be missed.
For further information about the project, contact:
National Secretary (TCFUA)
T: 03 9639 2955 M: 0419 339 259
Project Producer (TCFUA)
T: 03 9639 2955 M: 0419 339 259
Workers will be available for comment on the night of the launch
On 25 February 2009 Pacific Brands announced the closure of seven of its factories across Australia and the loss of 1850 jobs. Two of the factories were King Gee in Bellambi and Bonds in Unanderra.
A resilient community of nearly 300 workers became unemployed. Many have found jobs, but most jobs are casual and part-time, and can’t replace the stability workers had in full-time work.
Retrenchment causes economic and emotional difficulty including a loss of community and shared identity.
This community arts project documents the rich history created and shared by workers. The TCFUA engaged project artist and curator Celeste Coucke, photographers Angela Bailey and Stephen Fearnley and filmmaker Russell Hawkins. The artists worked with retrenched workers to document and acknowledge their working life, family and community in ceramics, quilting, photographs, stories and film.
Work on the Line – one of a national series of TCFUA arts projects and events – acknowledges the contribution of Bonds and King Gee workers while also marking an historic turning point in Australian manufacturing.
One day a man came from Sydney. He started telling us factories were going to close. He said, this one and that one, and then, he said Unanderra. It was like a tsunami came for us.
It wasn’t just a job. It was my life, my achievement in Australia. I had a nest in Bonds.
Bonds is still in every corner of my life. It is in my wardrobe. It is on the socks that my grandchildren wear.