Australian Folk Songs
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"Trade Union Shears"
General-Secretary Spence writes : --
The co-operative shearmakers have appointed the following merchants as their agents in Australia,
and I want any of our fellows who are in any of the cities to call and get a pair of the shears
marked " T.U.S.," and let me know what they are like. If members will ask for these and use no others
a demand will soon be created that will bring the supply. Shears can be obtained at the following
places Rockhampton, Walter Reid Ltd.; Townsville, Burns, Philp, and Co., Ltd.; Adelaide, Geo. P. Harris,
Scarfe, and Co.; Melbourne, M'Lean Bros, and Rigg and Jas. M'Ewan and Co., Ltd.; Sydney M Lean Bros,
and Rigg and Jas. M'Ewan and Co., Ltd., Brisbane, C. Highfield ; Christchurch, Chrystall and Co.;
Napier, Williams and Kettle, Ltd.
Here is a suggestion re the Trade Union Shears. Let the shearers' branch of the A.W.U. pass a resolution
at its nest convention, empowering its Executive Council to buy, say, a thousand pairs of shears.
At the commencement of the next year's shearing these shears could be sent to all the secretaries of the
A.W.U., and they in their turn could send them to every shearer's rep., when requested, in the same way
as they send the Union tickets. The price of shears could be regulated so as to cover the expenses of
postage, and the rep. could sell the shears as he sells the tickets. This plan would make the shearers
independent of the station stores so far as the shears are concerned, for it is not very likely that the
squatters will trouble themselves with selling Union shears. Another thing it will bring the Sheffield
Unionists as producers in touch with the Australian Unionists as consumers, and the middleman will be left
in the cold.--Yours, &c.,
E. De Guinney.
From the Wagga newspaper the Worker Saturday 10 November 1894 p. 2.
The preference among shearers for "Trade Union Shears" is highlighted in Duke Tritton's famous song "Shearing in the Bar" in this collection.
The first verse goes:--
My shearing days are over; though I never was a gun,
Could always count my twenty at the end of every run.
I used the old "Trade Union" shears, and the blades were always full
As I drove 'em to the knockers, and I chopped away the wool...
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory