AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY STORY

Railway Voices CD: 21. I am me (Migrant Workers)

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Nick Lewocki ARU organiser, now State Secretary, Rail Tram and Bus Union

Having a migrant sounding name, I found that during election time, particularly, or not before people knew me, I went to a country location and people said to me, "I'm glad we met you, we didn't think you could speak English, we didn't know who you were and you wouldn't have got our vote". So had my name been Smith or Jones, that problem would not have arisen.

Poem: I am me written and recited by Vladimir Navoev,

I am not an ayvan
I am not Bob
I am not David
I am not Rob
I am not Matthew
and I am not John
I am not Jerry
I am not Ron!
I am Spiro, Mehmed and Ho
I am Tanas, Giovanni and Pedro
I am E-e-e-van
a blacksmiths son
a blacksmith by trade
I am chosen one!?

Steve Malezka fitter's mate, Chullora Loco

I come from Germany, from the camp, after the war, come to Australia. It's a new country and start new life. And also they put us in another camp in here, the railway camp which we used to call the Hollywood. You can find all nation from the world ...same camp. Then we start, you know, new life, like work. In that time was plenty work, everybody wants you, you know, like in the private section in the ... then well my family, my wife and the children went to Cowra camp and we used to get, every fortnight, home pass and go visit them. See I was living here in a tent. There wasn't any huts or house or anything just the tent and you gotta go where they send you. Say Water Board, Railway or P.M.G., or Queensland sugar cane (laughs) ... you know that was the hardest work.

Chamal Gulbarche (Jimmy) crane chaser, Chullora

I was, you know, interesting to learn English language very very, you know, quickly, because to communicate, to understand Australia, to understand the socialised life of Australia or people of Australia, we have to learn English.

Railway Voices a CD of Australian railway workers stories with songs and poems