Union Songs

Penrhyn Road Picket

A song by John Warner ©1998

The bitter wind hurls veils of rain
Through the spotlight over the scarlet crane,
A police car spins out a wall of spray
By the picket tents at Botany Bay,
Canvas roofs and plastic walls
Crackle and heave in the icy squalls,
Red and yellow rainsuits shine
On that determined picket line.

MUA (echo)
Here to stay (echo)
At Webb Dock, Swanson Dock,
And windy Botany Bay,
And watch out you fools and liars who say we've had our day,
Here to stay!

We've faced the cold of the faceless thugs
With their batons, mace and savage dogs,
We've faced the boss's heart of ice
With his squalls of hate and his hail of lies.
For the Union's brought us tents and poles,
The miners brought us a hill of coal,
Carpenter's set up roof and wall,
And friends came in and they fed us all.

We're tugboat men on a twelve-hour shift,
Measuring current, set and drift,
We're operators on the scarlet cranes
Container loading on trucks and trains.
They've cut our numbers relentlessly
Now one man slaves at the work of three,
The work of three, it would make you laugh,
When they want to pay us the wage of half,
And danger hangs on our burnt-out brains,
As containers swing from the windblown cranes,
As the vessel shifts with the wind and tide,
A moment's lapse and a man has died.

We've faced the worst of the weather's blast,
We've the guts, the strength, and the friends to last.
We've comrades cooking us snags and tea,
We've anger, discipline and unity.
We know today and we know with pride,
Our solidarity's world wide,
And those who think to bar the door,
We've beaten better foes before.


Many thanks to John Warner for permission to add this song (written 5.5.98 revised 9.5.98) to the Union Songs collection

John writes "A night of incredible weather in which the defeat of Patrick Stevedores and the Howard Government seemed to become more and more inevitable. Images stay with me of brilliant colours against darkness: orange and yellow safety suits and the little red glows of cigarettes, identifying working men without faces in a dark, temporary shelter; the immense cranes and veils of rain drifting through the spotlights. Like these symbols, solidarity and a family-like friendship blaze through the oppression."

Visit John's website at http://www.folkjohnwarner.com

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