Union Songs

My Master And I

Says the master to me "Is it true as I'm told
Your name's on the book of the Union enrolled?
I can never allow that a workman of mine
With wicked disturbers of peace should combine"

"I give you fair warning, mind what you're about
I shall put my foot down and trample it out
On which side your bread's buttered, now sure you can choose
So decide now at once for the Union or me"

Said I to the master "it's perfectly true
That I'm in the Union and I'll stick to it too
And if between Union and you I must choose
I've plenty to win and little to lose"

"For twenty years mostly my bread has been dry
And to butter it now I will certainly try
And though I respect you remember I'm free
No master in England shall trample on me"

Says the master to me "A word or two more
We never have quarreled on matters before
If you stick to the Union 'ere long I'll be bound
You'll come and ask me for more wages all round"

"Now I cannot afford more than two bob a day
When I look at the taxes and rent that I pay
And the crops are so injured by game as you see
If it's hard for you it's hard also for me"

Say I to the master "I do not see how
Any need has arisen for quarrelling now
And though likely enough we shall ask for more wage
I promise you we shall not get first in a rage"

"There is Mr Darlow I vow and declare
A draper and grocer in Huntingdonshire
He sticks up for the labouring men they all say
He has caused the farmers to rise the men's pay"

"There is Mr Taylor so stout and so bold
The head of the Labourers' Union I'm told
He pursuaded all the men to stick up for their rights
And they say he's been giving the farmers the gripes"


Published in "Sharpen The Sickle! The History of the Farm Workers' Union" by Reg Groves with the note "A Union Song of the 1870's". Henry Taylor, an experienced trade unionist, was appointed Secretary of The Warwickshire Agricultural Labourers' Union in 1872.
The song's form suggests the "Derry Down" tune like that "The Coal Owner and the Poor Pitman's Wife" in this collection.

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