Union Songs

The Westgate Bridge Disaster

A song by Ken Mansell©Ken Mansell

- [play]

Oh time is a power that is precious and golden
That's needed so much by a working class bloke.
It's ours in the cradle then sold, seized and stolen.
If you're caught off your guard it is snuffed at a stroke.
Oh time is our own when we wake in the morning,
When stomachs are empty we clock on each day.
And high on the scaffold you are given no warning;
If a pylon comes crashing it will take you away.

There are men with more time than they know what to do with;
Who decided one day that a bridge we would build.
We rushed the job through to save costs on its finance;
The structure it split and cost thirty five killed.
It's safe in the boardroom when wind a bridge seizes.
When you hear the bolts snapping you can't strike for more pay.
They can hire more and fire more, start again when it pleases,
But the man who builds bridges, he is crushed in the clay.

The concreted decks bore down hard on the girders;
The foremen were blind when we looked down with fear.
While experts debate, who will punish these murderers?
'It's tragic; some say, 'for our two engineers',
For each one that forgets us there'll be two who remember
That profit, the culprit, in its greed was revealed.
Though many will stand by me, now I'm only an ember,
The lips of the judges have a price, and are sealed.

You can speed through the Westgate, AItona and Newport,
Past widows and children whose memories can't fade,
And use it for business or use it for pleasure,
Spare a thought for the men from whose flesh it was made.
Don't wait for the inquest or coroner's verdict;
Don't send for the priest to place me below;
But tell all my mates, if there's any still breathin'
To fight for the day when our time is our own.


Many thanks to Ken Mansell for permission to add this songs to the Union Songs collection.

This song details the tragic events of the 15th October 1970 when a steel span on the west bank of the Yarra River in Melbourne collapsed and 35 workers were killed

Visit the West Gate Bridge Memorial Committee web site at http://www.westgatebridge.org/

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