Union Songs

'Me and Lil'

A song by John Manifold©John Manifold 1962
From a Vehicle Builders' Union leaflet 1963

When I first met Lil the case it was clear,
And I talked of her in my sleep.
I called her 'precious', I called her 'dear',
But the boss considered her 'cheap',
For without regard for the work we did,
And simply as cock and hen,
He was paying me something like 15 quid,
While Lily got only ten.

'Oh Lily" I said, 'you must leave this life,
Such descrimination is vile.
Let me be the breadwinner, be my wife,
And live in superior style.'
But Lily wrinkled her film star brow,
And said, 'If you aren't insane,
You had better enthuse your union now,
For the Equal Pay campaign.'

'Oh, never bother your lovely head
With political stuff' says I,
'The boys will think I'm a dangerous Red,
If I pitch them a yarn so high'.
But I wish I'd done it, I tell you straight,
For the minute the trade got slack
The boss kept Lil on the cheap old rate
And I was given the sack.


I found this poem in the book "Kath Williams: The Unions and the Fight for Equal Pay" by Zelda D'Aprano. This handout was in response a Federal Council decision of the VBU to refuse entry of women into sections of the industry other than the trimming section.

Then in September 2006 at a Labour History conference in Brisbane I heard Doug Eaton sing a selection of songs written by John Manifold including Me and Lil. He then sent me the clipping of it from 'Our Women' March-May 1962

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