Union Songs

Galloway and Stephens

A song by Clem Parkinson©1985

Who were the men who led the fight that won the eight hour day?
The men to whom we owe a debt we never can repay
Their names will live forever though they lie beneath fhe clay
Twas no one else but Galloway and Stephens

It was Galloway and Stephens who pioneered the trail
Who led the band of working men determined to prevail
And so we stand together as their names we proudly hail
And shout "hurrah" for Galloway and Stephens

Back in the dark satanic days - a time when life was bleak
The workers toiled from dawn to dusk for 60 hours a week
Until they said "We'll make a stand - no time for being meek
We'll put our trust in Galloway and Stephens"

They were the honest working men the history books ignore
To tell instead of emperors and jingoistic war
And crooked politicians, worthless monarchs by the score
We'd trade them all for Galloway and StephensNotes


Many thanks to Clem Parkinson for permission to add this song to the Union Songs collection.

All building workers in Melbourne won a reduction in working hours from 60 to 48 per week in 1856. Sydney stonemasons led the way in 1855, but the first whole industry in the world to gain this reform was in Melbourne the next year.

James Stephens and James Galloway led the 8 hours struggle in Melbourne. Both were stonemasons. Galloway, a Scottish migrant, became corresponding secretary of the Stonemasons Society in Melbourne, and Stephens, a Welsh migrant, its president.

After a deputation and a lively public meeting between contractors and workers, the bosses agreed to honour an 8 hour day from 21 April. But that morning Stephens learnt that two contractors were refusing, so he called a meeting of 700 workers building Melbourne University, and they marched to all other building sites, including the two whose bosses were refusing the 8 hour day. All the building workers on the sites joined them, and they resolved to strike until the two bosses gave in, which they did that night.

From Recorder the journal of The Society for the Study of Labour History,

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