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If It Wisnae for the Union

A song in praise of trade unionism.

This song was written by Glasgow songmaker extraordinare Matt McGinn. He based the lyric on, and took the tune from, a popular old Scottish song in praise of the weavers.

If it wasnae for the weavers what would we do?
We wouldna hae claith made o oor woo
We wouldna hae a coat, na, neither black nor blue
If it wasnae for the work o the weavers

Another songmaker took the same old song and made it the basis for the signature tune of a stage show called The Great Northern Welly Boot Show. In 1972 Billy Connolly wrote the songs and took part in this show, in the days before he began to make pictures and TV series.

He sang:

'If it wasny fur yer wellies, where would ye be
You’d be in the hospital or infirmary
For you would have a dose of the flu or even pleurisy
If ye didny have yer feet in yer wellies.'


I'll tell ye something awfu true,
Ye wouldna hae your telly the noo
If it wisnae for the Union

I had a boss in Aberdeen
The nicest fella ever I've seen
But I think he thought I wis awfa green
Afore I joined the Union

I had a boss they called Colquhoun
The nicest fella in Glesga Toon
Except for keeping yer wages doon
Afore we joined the Union

I had a boss his name wis Black
He told me I could call him Jack
He wis helluva good at gien ye the sack
Afore we joined the Union

I'll tell you something else that's true
The boss would hae us black and blue
If it wisnae for the Union

I had a lass in Inverness
And she wis one o the very best
But we couldnae afford tae marry unless
I went and joined the Union

There's twenty-four hours in a day it's true
And we'd ha worked the twenty-two
If it wisnae for the Union

Men and women listen tae me
It's time tae rise up aff yer knee
So raise the flag of Unity
And forward with the Union


Listen to 'If It Wisnae for the Union' performed by Hamish Imlach.
From If It Wisnae for the Union, CDTRAX5005 (1996), Greentrax Recordings