The Colour-Bar Strike

Ewan MacColl
Language: English

My union badge shows two joined hands
With a lighted flame in common fight
But trouble's brewing in the sheds
For both these working hands are white

But working hands are white and black
And the work they do is all the same
But prejudice and fear come in
To break the grip, and dim the flame

The shunters broke the grip one day
Kings Cross goods yard went on strike
Not in a fight for better pay
But a coloured man they did not like

They did not like the coloured man
They wouldn't work with him, they said
In truth, it touched their overtime
And to a colour bar it led

The colour bar strikers soon went back
Jim Figgins led the NUR
And when they asked for his support
He said, 'We'll have no colour bar'

Jim Figgins said, 'Get back to work
This is a strike we'll not support
This is the kind of ignorance
That unions have always fought'

But though the union won that fight
The pressure's there and rising higher
Smoke rises in the engine sheds
And where there's smoke there's always fire

Men don't let smoke get in your eyes
Kindle that flame and keep it bright
To proud tradition still be true
And make those joined hands black and white

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