The Trade Union Song – Industrial Relations rocks !!!

Of the thousands of songs downloaded, some heard and some still unheard, my car stereo randomly caught upon a song from its collection. The vocals seemed mellowed and it stuck to a tempo of a folk song with these lyrics -

Now, if you want higher wages let me tell you what to do
You got to talk to the workers in the shop with you
You got to build you a union, got to make it strong
But if you all stick together, boys, it won’t be long
You get shorter hours, better working conditions
Vacations with pay. Take your kids to the seashore

Before I could blend to the rhythm in the drive, my HR whiskers caught notice of those outlandish lyrics.  I glanced across the stereo dash to check the screen for the name of this unfamiliar song and singer – ‘Talking Union – By Pete Seeger’ it read. Was too tempted to get to the details of the first Union song I have ever come across so browsed through the internet. The song in fact had a video available on Youtube (link - and this song connected me to newer facts of this singer Pete Seeger and his other songs.

In India the song and anthem “We shall overcome” is synonymous with togetherness and unity but never realised its connect to Pete Seeger. This song “We shall overcome” was published in the September 1948 issue of People’s Songs Bulletin (a publication of People’s Songs, an organisation of which Pete Seeger was the director and guiding spirit).  Peter ”Pete” Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) was an American folk singer, activist and a pioneer of protest music. His most recent albums, “A More Perfect Union” and “Pete Remembers Woody,” were released in 2012. He was honoured with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1993 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years later.

Probed deeper into a search for other Trade Union songs available and it brought me to the mother of all Trade Union Songs collection at There are other lists that even rank the best Trade Union Songs and it would be unfair of me not to let you have it from here ands so there you go –

  • Factory: Bruce Springsteen
  • Florence Reece: Which Side Are You On?
  • Working Class Hero: John Lennon
  • Billy Bragg: Power in a Union
  • Tom Morello: Union Town
  • Johnny Paycheck: Take This Job and Shove It
  • Judy Collins: Bread and Roses
  • Pete Seeger: Solidarity Forever
  • Woody Guthrie: Union Burying Ground
  • The Power Plant Strike Song: The Simpsons

In the early era, songs were the best media to sync the crowd and Trade Unionism would have had such songs as part of its armoury. If history of revolutions and Trade Union movements were to be relived then one of these songs would have echoed in the crowd to uplift the spirits to overturn anarchy and bring about a revolution.

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