Union Songs

Speed up, Shiftwork and Overtime

A song by Mark Gregory©Mark Gregory 1970

I've read in the newspapers and seen it on TV
They tell us that the bosses and the workers should agree
It make the bosses angry, it makes the tories rage
To think some men refuse to work if they dont get a decent wage

It's speed up shiftwork and overtime for you
If you want to make a living that's what they'll make you do
It really makes me wonder when I hear some people speak
Of how we fought for the eight hour day or forty hours a week

In days gone by when prices fell and the markets hit a glut
The workers in this country would have their wages cut
But now there is a different trick that's used throughout the nation
These days they put the prices up, cut wages by inflation

So ...

And now they try to tell us that this country's going broke
It must be all those profits that's causing them to choke
The answer's very simple the problem can be solved
We'll sack the bloody bosses and have workers in control

Or else ...


I wrote this song when I worked in a brewery in London in 1970. At the time I was an Engine Driver for a couple of Hall's Ammonia Compressors in the chilling plant. Much of the day or night entailed keeping an ear out for warning sounds, a nose ready for ammonia leaks and an eye on various gauges. Time for reading and writing (and occasionally sampling the merchandise).

There was a Tory government in power with a brand new Industrial Relations Bill written by a minister who also happened to be the head of Securicor the private security firm. This anti union law had particularly draconian anti-strike clauses. "Kill the Bill" was the slogan of the day (a double entendre in London at least).

Between my shifts cooling Watney's Red Barrel, I worked in the documentary film group, Cinema Action, which was making a film called "Fighting the Bill", as part of the union movement's response to the new laws. I recorded the song and it was used as the introduction of that film !

It goes to the tune of the Australian shearers song Lachlan Tigers and this recording how it sounded on the Cinema Action 16 mm film.

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