Sisters & Brothers

In a four storey building now eight storeys high
On a rubbish filled swamp that barely was dry
Corporate stooges they turned a blind eye
To the death trap that reached to the sky

And in the dim neon light in the heat of the day
Those sewing machines they clattered away
Thousands of workers, three dollars a day
Making T-shirts we’ll soon throw away


And what was done to our fathers and mothers 
Is now being done to our sisters and brothers
Those who live in absolute need
Are abused by those driven by greed

But in April ’13, fissures two inches wide,
Patterned the walls upon every side,
And workers concerns could no more be denied
As they rushed for the door in a tide
But the boss-man he called for his tame engineer
Who somehow concluded there’s nothing to fear
And workers were ordered next day to appear
 ‘Do a shift or expect to pay dear’


So, the workforce assembled the very next day
But ten minutes in, the power gave way
The generator kicked, walls started to sway 
And all they could do then was pray

Those thousands of workers they rushed for the door
As ceilings fell through, floor after floor
With hundreds left crushed in its merciless maw
Lost to their kin evermore


So, remember your history and the things that were done
To those gone before us and sadly now gone,
But remember all those toiling under the sun
For we stand with them now as one

For they work for us all in the heat and the grime
They provision us all at the cost of a dime
In working conditions that sum to a crime
Time after time after time


Music: Na-Mara, Lyrics P. McNamara

British folk music provides important testimony to historic disasters and exploitation.  However, as the economy becomes global and takes tragedy and abuse along with it, we need to recognise that “what was done to our fathers and mothers is now being done to our sisters and brothers”.