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Three and Six a Day [1889]

The times are very hard indeed;
I work for wretched pay
Which don't provide for all we need;
'Tis three and six per day.

My fam'ly numbers eight in all;
I cannot find a way
To keep my children, big and small,
On three and six a day;

There's' bread to buy, and meat to get,
And clothes that can't be gay,
And lots of bills that must be met
On three and six a day.

I wish to educate them, too,
But who can tell me, pray,
How I so many things can do
On three and six a day?

All I can earn at Moonta Mines,
And labor how I may
From morning until evening time
Is three and six a day.

My wife, poor thing, is growing thin:
The doctors to her say
Her life will not be worth a pin
With three and six a day.

The children, too, are lank and lean,
Their clothes patched ev'ry way;
But who can keep them neat and clean
On three and six a day.

The reason of such little wage
Doth fill me with dismay
To think that in this prosptrous age
But three and six per day.

R.H. Hancock is my boss;
He often preach and pray
And tells me of the Company's loss
At three and six a day.

I hope and trust he soon will see
That I can not obey
The calls of Nature on the fee
of three and six per day.

In my devotions ev'ry night
To Him above I pray
That Longshanks be removed from sight
And three and six a day!


[Extract from the diaries of Josiah Cocking 1884-1893 pp. 59-60] Another letter from J.H. Grose:--
Wallaroo Mines, May 29, 1889.

Dear Joe, you will see by this letter that I started it on the 29th of May, & it is now the 4th of June, I have 2 excuses to offer for not finishing it on the former date. The first runs thus -- the thumb & first finger on my right hand were all cracked inside, & I had to knock off writing for that reason. The second excuse runs thus: We have been on strike here since Saturday, & I wanted to see things settled before I wrote, so as to let you know something about it. I dare say that you are aware that we have a branch of the Amalgamated Miners Association here in Wallaroo Mines.
Well, in the first place, I will tell you the principal object in banding ourselves together. It was to prevent us from cutting one another's throats. Of course you know that men have been cutting one another's prices for years past, & that is bringing the wages down. Well, this Association was formed to prevent such.
Well, the main cause of our standing out was this: John Tamblyn was bossing a number of men underground, working a stope for so much per foot for the holes they bored. (I think I told you of this boring party before.). Well, he had orders to give his men a week's notice to stop work, & at the same time he had a good stope offered him on tutwork, not for the men he had under him, but for himself) Well, he thought he would collar it in time so he gave the men 3 days notice & secured the stope for himself against the laws of the A.M.A., & thereby throwing these poor men out of work 3 days before he had any right to.
Of course you will see by that he robbed their children of their bread. Well, all the members of the A.M.A. stopped work until he gave up his place again. Well, he vowed he would not give it up for the Devil. But yesterday afternoon he yielded to our requests; & then, when it was settled, we thought we might as well clear things off to a "breast-head", as Cousin Jack calls it.
So we resolved not to start to work again until every working man in Wallaroo Mines became a unionist; & we accomplished our end by dinner time to-day, & started to work after dinner.
So I hope things will go on smoothly together between man & master I will send you a bit of poetry with this letter about the wages in Moonta mines. The piece is headed



australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory