Days, date and time meant precious little to me at Shay Gap, I was open seven days a week 52 weeks of the year; the only days the ‘Wet’ didn’t open were Christmas Day and Good Friday, so if I get things out of sequence it really isn’t of any great moment. I was entitled to 7 days off with free return air fare to Perth every 3 months.
I took this only once, the second day back in Perth I was bored to death and couldn’t get back up to the Pilbara quick enough. In Perth I knew nobody; I’d lost contact with all my old chums male and female and with limited time I couldn’t be bothered trying to make contact ‘for old time’s sake’ . I missed my ‘Wet’ and I missed my boys, it hadn’t taken long for me to think of all the men as my boys.
It must have been about 4-5 weeks after I took over I was getting ready to open for my morning session and my morning casual that day arrived all excited, “What’s up with you” says me ” we’re going on strike” says he, ( I’ll have to get out of this says me says he business)! “Hello, Hello!” thinks me; strike.
There hadn’t been a strike since I’d been in Shay although I’d heard that they used to be frequent and sometimes long. This was no good for me and my ‘Wet’, if the strike dragged on then the men drifted into ‘Hedland’ if they had money to spare/waste and if they didn’t they couldn’t afford to drink and I didn’t like that idea one bit.
“What are they going on strike for?” says me “The water cart” says he, it seems that there was a water cart going around and around the mine site damping down the dust and sand pretty well every minute of every shift and the mine management wanted to stop it except when the dust/sand was really bad; or some such nonsense.
Anyway I thought this was a ridiculous reason for going on strike, so I said to my casual ” right I’ll go out too, I’ll close up shop and join the strike, can’t have the management standing over us like this” or words to that effect. He said something like ” What you’ll close up? Won’t open?”
“Too right, I’m with you blokes if they want to fight I’ll close up and stop and stand with you blokes” “No way I’ll let them treat my boys like this” ” Damn their takings and profit, if my boys have to suffer then so can they”!
With this my bloke asked if it was okay to go off and let the men know that I was with them and what I intended to do and I told him to get moving quick smart.
He must have been gone best part of an hour when he got back he told me that the strike had been called off, there was never a strike my entire time at Shay Gap and I sometimes wonder if it was because I swore I’d go out and join the men in sympathy; or not.
I never did tell my casuals that I could not close up shop and go on strike with them. I’d have been breaking the law, our licence required the “Wet” to open whether I liked it or not, and not only that Poone Bros had nothing whatsoever to do with Goldsworthy Mining, and whatever Goldsworthy wanted to do was their business; but they were convinced that if and when they went on strike I’d be standing up right there with them.