Union Songs

5 John Tomlinson Poems

Rapping with Johnny Howard

Hand on my shoulder and called me son
I'd been working in his factory since eighty-one.
Stay out of the union, escape the award
and an employment contract is assured.
I work all day and half the night
trying to ensure I do things right.
Work harder, work smarter, work faster
if you want to avoid economic disaster.
The whole game now is efficiency
he wants me to do the work of three.
By the drive for profit he is haunted
I asked him what he really wanted
he said that what he wanted most
was for me to become a father, son and ghost.
Drink the wine and eat the host
and you might become father, son and ghost.

A million people without work today,
we've lost our path, we've lost the way.
They want me to do the work of three
how can they call that efficiency?
So I'll drink the wine and eat the host
father, son and ghost.

Why steal our future ?

Where has all the child care gone
gone from mothers young and old,
when will we ever learn
when will we ever learn.
Where has all employment gone
jobs disappeared for everyone,
when will we ever learn
when will we ever learn.
Divided workers always lose
awards or contracts you must choose,
when will we ever learn
when will we ever learn.
United workers will always win
combine with us come on join in,
when will we ever learn
when will we ever learn.

No cost Speech

You say we must be free to speak our mind
that what you say harms no one,
your tone of voice is gentle, soft and kind
yet there is an edge-
you sound just like a Hasonesque tattler
seeking to impress the little Aussie battler.
I'm sorry John to tell you this,
I regret what I have to say
you are going to have to find another hero, John
you are going to have to wait another day.
I know you've played the racist card,
you played it strong and well
in 88 you laid it out for all to see
but you were damned to hell:
a bitter memory.
Your racism is now much cleverer, John
I know you would impress
Pauline of Ipswich with her tight lips
What you don't understand John is that,
she is not your Joan of Arc,
nor your Helen of Troy;
her's is not the face that launched a thousand ships.
Pauline batters Bream
and serves up greasy chips.

Chain Gang

Work for the dole
well "Bless my sole"
what an interesting idea.
You would have thought
that someone ought
to have thought
of that
before this year.

Didn't they try to do it in 1929?
Wasn't it then the susso scheme?
When men had to leave their families
to go the great out back?

It was the stamp of feet
on the dusty street,
which ensured that they would eat.
The susso was what it was called
and civilised folks were quite appalled
that men were forced from town to town,
with a swag upon their back
and an old corn sack,
as they headed for the great out back.

They have a scheme just like it
for those who are born black;
they work from home,
aren't forced to roam,
'cause they live in the great out back.
Of cause we only pay a pittance,
a charitable remittance,
but what do you expect in the country
when you live so far from town.

The one good thing I have to say
is government has promised it will pay
three dollars an hour for a twenty hour week.
Now that is the going rate.
Dole bludgers don't be late!!!
It will only apply only to the young,
and of course the rural poor,
and run down areas of cities
where unemployment is a running sore.

A Black Armbanded History

Roll up! Roll up and see the show,
armbanded historians in a row,
spreading revisionism as they go,
weaving distortion to and fro.

Saying Robert Menzies was the greatest
-greatest liar:
that he never set the world on fire.
Got us involved in the Vietnam War
and falsified what we were fighting for.
Unemployment then was one per cent;
but you never paid Aborigines rent
-for the land you stole.
You never paid a god damn cent
claiming intervention,
heaven sent.
missionaries christainised,
without repent.
I wish to Christ you'd paid the rent.

Rewrite history if you must
but you know we will not trust
the things you say that used to be
if they don't concur with our memory.


Many thanks to John Tomlinson for permission to add these poems to the Union Songs site

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