A New Song on the Short Time Movement

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In the 1870s, the West of Scotland farm workers called for action over working hours. In this song, the speaker argues that ploughmen should work shorter hours and receive better pay from farmers.

Performer: Adam McNaughtan.

Come all you jolly ploughmen that turn up the soil,
Likewise you fairmers’ labourers that late and early toil,
Come listen to my song, brave lads and with me now agree.
Be sure you watch what you’re about this term before you fee.

It’s shorter hours, my trusty lads, ye ken that we maun ha’e;
And make the fairmer draw his purse and lengthen oot oor pay.
For harder working squad o’ men is nowhere to be found
Than those hardy, healthy ploughmen that turn up the ground.

The lads in the east country have nine hours a day,
Besides, as you may be aware, they have got up their pay;
And every Saturday afternoon, as reg’lar as the knock,
They finish up and loose their horse exact at one o’clock.

Come put your heads together, boys – your shoulders to the wheel,
And to the fairmers here this day I hope you will not yield.
Stand ye out for shorter time – for better wages too.
For every class you’ll mention depends up on the plough.

There’s not another class of men, I care not what they do,
That have to stand out, wet and dry, like those that hold the plough;
And yet with all our ups and downs, it’s seldom we lament;
We hash away the livelong day to pay the fairmer’s rent.

And every other working class to their hours they stand;
Before the regular time of work they will not file a hand.
The very scavengers in the street, the chimney-sweepers too,
Have better hours and rules, my lads, than we who hold the plough.

Let us get a society, let it be firm and strong,
And soon we’ll have ten hundred men along with us to join.
And in a short time we will be the foremost in the land.
All trades may fail and be blocked up – the plough it canna stand.