Union Songs

The Melbourne Strike

A Poem by Paddy Collins©Paddy Collins 1890

You working men of Melbourne
Once more I say, Unite
And show those wealthy tyrants
That you are determined to fight.
Tell those men that you mean to win
On Labour's battle-field,
Or sacrifice all earthly things
And die before you yield.

Some of you men once left your home
And crossed the angry waves,
And found a home in this sunny land
Where Britons shan't be slaves.
We must be free as men should be,
Our just rights to maintain,
Then sound the labour war cry
Over continent and main.

Your fathers in the days of old
As all of you know,
Were slaves beneath those wealthy lords,
Who neither plough nor sow.
They live by you, poor working men,
On the fruits of your hard toil;
Be firm, then, do not give in,
Prove faithful and be loyal.

The rich man lives in a marble hall,
With luxuries all around.
Your daughters serve him at his board
And mend his lady's gown.
Each night at nine he drinks his wine
And smacks his lips with glee,
Whilst the working man for ever lives
In want and misery.

On Eight Hours Day demonstrate
That you are determined to be free,
That the state of things that now exist
Shall no longer be.
Then lift your banner up on high
And march in grand array;
No matter what Duncan Gillies
Or Colonel Price may say.

Then celebrate both one and all
This glorious Eight Hours' Day,
In defiance of those who would shoot you down
If they had but their own way.
They may say "Fire low, and lay them out!"
But mark well what I say,
Retaliate and pay them back
On the next election day.


Hugh Anderson who collected and published 'Paddy Collins: A Sydney Street Poet' (2010) comments:
'The extensive literature of broadside ballads in English generally agrees that this form of verse and song has been virtually extinct since the beginning of the twentieth century. The reverse position is the correct one for Australia. There were several street balladists to be found in Melbourne and Sydney, at least, and this article claims premier position for the local and, for the time, topical verses of Patrick Francis Collins. 'Paddy' wrote many ballads about disasters, murders and war, but commented particularly on social affairs and politics from a labour perspective.'

Find more of Paddy Collins' work in this collection

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