Thursday, 17 October 2013

Going on Strike

I hated the way they looked at me,
Back in 1973,
The day after our ASLEF strike:
There was hatred in their eyes as I trudged
Along the platform to the signal;
It was a long walk, I can tell you,
Me in me uniform, billy can in me hand,
Them in their suits, Telegraphs in their hands,
Watching me walk along that long platform,
Billy can in my hand.

After what seemed to be an hour or so,
I reached the security of the cab,
Where I wanted to turn and shout out loud:
“OK, Let’s start at the end of the last century,
With the Dock Workers’ Strike of 1889,
It showed that zero-hours unskilled workers
Could protect themselves against wage cuts,
And that manual labour did have dignity,
Like on the canals and wharves around Stroud.

And what of Nineteen-Hundred-Eleven?
The Triple Industrial Alliance!
Nostalgic name from Edwardian days,
Railway workers, dockers and miners,
Joined in union solidarity,
Protecting families, wages, lodgings and homes,
Before the Great War claimed them for its own.

The Triple Industrial Alliance!
Defender of the working class after the war,
Against wage cuts and longer working hours,
At the forefront in the General Strike,
In coalmine, railway station and dockland,
Thinking of others apart from themselves.

And what of the Welsh Hunger Marchers
In the Great Depression of the thirties -
Receiving help and succor as they walked
Through west-country working class towns,
On their poor, solemn, path to London;
This is all beyond your understanding,
And your capitalist consciousness.”

But the whistle blew:
The flag was green, not red,
And all of this was thought,
Not said.

No comments:

Post a Comment