The Slaying and the Paying

Tony Smith
Language: English

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When the Australian government wanted to introduce conscription to boost recruitments in 1916, the editor of the Australian Worker pointed out that workers volunteered in much greater numbers than either politicians or members of the Chambers of Commerce. Workers, whose wages were frozen, made double sacrifice in the war. They did the slaying and the paying, while their 'masters' stayed home and increased their profits.
In this bloody war my boys
One thing seems quite certain
There is a class element
We know who most is hurtin’
Kings of commerce don’t enlist
Of conflict they are shy
And politicians they resist
The temptation to fight

But we workers do the slaying
We also do the paying
And some of us are dying
While the bosses go on lying

The price of bread and meat
Through the roof is rising
Our wages they do freeze
Is that at all surprising?
In going for the top of town
Henry Boote was so right
They screw our pay right down
While on our backs they ride

But we workers do the slaying
We also do the paying
And some of us are dying
While the bosses go on lying

Frank Anstey had a message clear
For those who freedom stifle
The price of winning is too dear
If speech we have to bridle
What use is victory abroad
If we are here enslaved?
But still the hypocrites make laws
The Wobblies they would jail

And when the soldiers all come back
To what will they return
They think a workers’ paradise
Their sacrifice will earn
But what if they look around
And think that their losses
Have just lined the pockets
Of the greedy over bosses

Contributed by Tony Smith - 2017/4/26 - 10:50

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