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Issue #1639      May 21, 2014

Poetry

Not yet the time

We swung a mighty hammer,
Our fourteen days of war;
The rock of Menzies shuddered,
We wedged his prison door.
But the clink of foreign money
Has sounded in his ear;
He signed the union warrant
Though his lips were white with fear.
“All out, and we will smash him,
all out, this is the day!”
But though our hearts are burning,
What does our knowledge say?

Not yet the time, not yet the day;
But every blow brings closer still
The time when he is swept away.

Our fathers fought before us
In bitter seventeen;
No honest man could stomach
The treachery they’d seen;
But the union had been handcuffed
And hunger beat them back,
Till Bloody Sunday freed them,
Gave Bloody Hal the sack.
Two years they toiled and waited,
But time runs swifter now;
We’ll clear our land of Menzies;
Our hand is on the plough.

Not yet the time, not yet the day;
But every blow brings closer still
The time when he is swept away!

Vic Williams

In November 1954 the Menzies government, pressured by the combined shipping lines, passed laws to strip the Waterside Workers Federation of power to recruit labour, their traditional right. The whole of the WWF stopped work, organised to make their issue public, set up picketing and relief. They handled all medical and perishables. After fourteen days when the law was passed they went back to work, with the agreement of Australian Council of Trade Unions and unions not to work with labour recruited by shipping lines. The shipowners backed off recruiting labour and the law was dead within days.

From Harvest Time and other poems.

Next article – Israelis forced to confront guilty secret

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