A documentary telling the story of an historic Levin protest will take pride of place at Te Takere almost 40 years after it was made.

Even Dogs Are Given Bones, which was made in 1981 during the now infamous Rixen dispute at a Levin clothing factory, received scant viewing at the time.

Now the film had been dusted off and digitised, and plans were in place to hand the footage to Levin library Te Takere, where it would be available for public viewing as it was an important piece of Levin - and New Zealand's - history.

Some of the workers and their families went to a public viewing at Focal Point Cinema at the weekend. For most, it was the first time they had seen the footage.

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They were now heralded for their bravery in what was a heated dispute that lasted nearly six months with their former employer over redundancy payments.

As New Zealand celebrates 125 of womens suffrage, tributes have flowed in as the sacrifice made by the workers who staged the factory sit-in is remembered.

Unfortunately, for many of the women at the time they were labelled troublemakers and initially struggled to find employment after Rixen.

Levin woman Lynn Wood said the reason they had protested was generally misunderstood as all she wanted to do was work.

"I went for 21 jobs and in the finish I was getting a bit gun shy," she said.

Eventually her late husband Bob Wood rang another clothing firm in Levin called W.A. Mullans and said "for gods sake find her a job".

"You were treated like dirt. I went to the Cossie Club and people parted like I had a disease."

Ms Waddell said she went for a job and was told "I'm not going to employ you - you're a sh** stirrer".

One the workers said it was not uncommon for cars to pull up outside the factory, wind their windows down, and spit in their direction.

"And it was their kids, too," she said.

There was a donation box handed to the workers and when they opened it they found it was full of pretend dollar notes.

Another person rang and asked them to please not chop down the rugby goal posts at the Levin Domain.

"That was what some people thought. They didn't really understand what was happening to us."

Initially there was 67 workers on the Rixen staff when it closed its door in late August 1981, of which some were able to find jobs straight away.

But many others couldn't, and believing an injustice staged the longest factory occupation in New Zealand's history, credited with bringing about change to New Zealand employment laws around redundancy payments.

There were 29 workers who stood their ground. Many said they were naive when the protest started, but the experienced changed them, for the better.

They felt empowered by their united stand and were more self-aware and self-confident as a result.

The workers thanked the Focal Point Cinema management for putting on the viewing free-of-charge.

Even Dogs Are Given Bones never made it to air on New Zealand television.