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The Colliers' Strike Song, song lyrics

Poem: The Colliers' Strike Song
Poet: Melinda Kendall(1)

Year: 1885(2)
Country: Australia


Come all ye jolly colliers, and colliers' wives as well,
And listen to my ditty, for the truth I mean to tell;
It's of a colliers'(3) wage dispute, is the burden of my song;
I mean to cheer you up, if it won't detain you long.
For masters they are grumbling, in country and in town,
They want to starve poor miners, by cutting wages down;
But if you stick together, and every one be true,
You are sure to be triumphant singing cock-a-doodle-doo.

(CHORUS:)
For masters they are grumbling, in country and in town,
They want to starve poor miners, by cutting wages down;
But if you stick together, and every one be true,
You are sure to be triumphant singing cock-a-doodle-doo.

The miners of Mount Kembla(4), oh! loudly how they shout
Against this drop of ten per cent., they're right without a doubt;
In this happy, glorious country, man is treated like a Turk,
Where the masters get the profit, and the miners get the work.
We only want fair wages, we only want fair play,
We know we ought to have a good dinner every day;
But what are we to do when the butcher he comes round,
If we let our masters drop two shillings in the pound.
This song was originally posted on protestsonglyrics.net
(CHORUS)

Just ask a blessed woman what she is going to do, -
From the present price of wages we cannot save a screw -
With a lot of little children, with pieces, hungry teeth;
If they drop our wages, they must also drop the price of beef.
For every woman knows the task she has to meet,
With a lot of little mouths, and nothing much to eat;
But it can't be very different, it's very plain to tell,
Where the masters get the oyster, and the miners get the shell.

(CHORUS)

I would have you stick together, and have a good go in,
Be true to one another, and I'm sure you're bound to win;
Though money is so valuable - and so is labour, too -
The working man is worth whatever he may do.
And I hope that every woman will tell her husband too;
She will do her very best to help him to keep true;
They will be sure to raise the wine, and make the masters say
"The devil's in the women, for they never will give way."


Notes:

1 - Remembering Melinda Kendall, by Peter Knox, 2008. Born Melinda McNally, Pitt Town, New South Wales, Australia 1815 and died 1893. She is the mother of famed Australian poet (Thomas) Henry Kendall. and Melinda Kendall: Her Life and Writings a blog by Peter Knox. Also Rochdale and the 1795 Food Riots.

2 - Published in Illawarra Mercury, 3 October, 1885, p. 2, Illawarra, New South Wales, Australia as per Once Upon a Place, Illawarra Literature in Early Newspapers, by Peter Knox, 2000, University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia, footnote 15, p. 12.

3 - A "collier" is a coal miner.

4 - The Mount Kembla Colliery, a short history of the coal mine.