Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Fighting the Bill (1970)

Courtesy of Cinema Action

Main image of Fighting the Bill (1970)
Produced, Directed, Filmed and Edited byCinema Action

Made as part of the compaign against the Industrial Relations Bill. A trade unionist talks about the crisis he sees in the working classes. The importance of basic trade union practice and the need to defend the right to have independent trade unions is illustrated by shop stewards.

Show full synopsis

Fighting the Bill marries a specific campaign to what was Cinema Action's most theoretical production to date. A flyer that was produced for the film in the 1980s explicitly identified the film's historical analysis as its most valuable feature. It suggests that "by showing that the working class can and must organise, and by reflecting this strength, the film provides a catalyst for bridging the gap between the fighting spirit of the early 70s and the lack of perspective today."

The immediate context of the film was the campaign against the Heath government's Industrial Relations Bill, but it represents the summation of Cinema Action's involvement with the trades unions and shop stewards' movement because the Bill proposed what the unions considered to be massive restrictions on their practices.

The film's makers were trade unionists and worked closely with officials to generate ideas, devise scripts and formulate policy. Several trade unionists are prominent in articulating Fighting the Bill's arguments. Mike Cooley has since become well known for his work in promoting a socially useful and 'human-centred' approach to technological development.

The film's opening sequence is notable for the way it encompasses a great number of themes and refers to nearly all of Cinema Action's productions to that date. In particular, the music highlights concerns that the historical progress of the union movement in enshrining certain rights needs protecting. This sort of folk music is also prominently used in The Miners' Film (1974/75) and Arise Ye Workers (1973).

Kieron Webb

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
1. The universal struggle (3:23)
2. The only way (2:20)
3. Resist secret ballots (3:59)
Cinema Action