Union Songs

With These Arms

A song by Tim O'Brien ©Tim O'Brien 1998
(Justice is a frail and precious right easily betrayed by those entrusted to its care)

The deal was done behind a coward's door
they came in darkness, shadows on the shore
the snarl of dogs sent shivers through the night
as union men were thrown outside the wire

They locked the gates hanging them in chains
they gloated seeing working men in pain
We watched and saw a veil of darkness fall
with working men and women we heard the call

And with these arms we held the line
with these arms our strength combined
and with these arms made our demand
and with these arms we made a stand
And with these arms
- arms that held a baby held the line

They'd break the union with one deadly blow
If you're MUA - they said - you'd have to go
fifteen hundred men cast aside
their crime - being union - had them fired

Hundreds grew to thousands through those nights
faces glowed defiant for workers' rights
Police moved in, building workers moved behind
and mothers, sisters, brothers held the line

And with these arms we held the line
with these arms our strength combined
with these arms we turned them back
and with these arms took up the tracks
And with these arms
- arms more used to papers held the line


Many thanks to Tim O'Brien for permission to add this song to the Union Songs site.

This song is one of two songs on a fund raising MUA CD available from the ACTU which also includes a dance called "We Belong to the Union (Corrigan Quick-step Dance Mix)", the choreography of the dance taking the following form:

"For this track couples break up into four couples with a drongo or - for this dance - a corrigan in the middle. As the couples dance about, the corrigan attempts to strip assets off the dancers (in a bereft and morally corrupt manner) until no-one has any assets left."

To order the CD send cheque/money order for $10.00 to:

ACTU House
393 - 397 Swantston St.
Victoria 3000

Tim sings the song on the MUA Centenary CD "With These Arms"

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