why do we have labor day in australia

Labour Day (or for you Yanks, Labor Day) is an Australian public holiday originally called Eight Hours Day. It celebrates the achievements of organised labour on behalf of the worker to bring about the 8-hour day in the late 1850s. Previously workers were required to work long hours each week. 10 to 12 hours a day six days a week. While a change was made to the hours worked each day, the five day work week we enjoy today took almost a century longer to be adopted finally in 1948. If look closely you may spot the numbers 888 on many union buildings across Australia. The numbers are in support of British socialist Robert Owen who believed that people should have 8 hours to work, 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours to sleep. This philosophy helped foster The Eight Hours Movement. The first Labour Day parade was held in Melbourne on April 21st, 1856. Today parades across Australia remind us of the accomplishments made by the unions on behalf of the workers.


Australians now enjoy better working conditions than any time in our history. Labour Day is celebrated at different times across Australia because each state achieved the 8-hour day on different dates. Note: new window. When you're done browsing the other website, close that window. We'll be here waiting so you can continue your visit with us.
Labour Day is an annual public holiday that celebrates the eight-hour working day, a victory for workers in the mid-late 19th century. В The argument for the eight-hour day was based on the need for each person to have eight hours labour, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest. In the early 19th century, most labourers worked 10- or 12-hour days for six days each week. The 1850s brought a strong push for better conditions. A significant part of the push began in 1855 in Sydney.


On 21 April 1856, in Melbourne, the stonemasons workers staged a well-organised protest. They downed tools and walked to Parliament House with other members of the building trade. Their fight was for an eight-hour day, effectively a 48-hour week to replace the 60-hour week. The government agreed to an eight-hour day for workers employed on public works, with no loss of pay. The win was a world first but did not end all labour problems. Many working conditions were harsh and demanding, and women were paid a lot less than men. But the victory for the eight-hour day was significant and several hundred building workers marched in a parade in May 1856 to celebrate their win. Tinsmiths, bootmakers, tailors, metal workers and stonemasons were amongst many of workersв groups that protested and fought for better working conditions across the country. Over the next two decades, one by one, the states brought in the eight-hour-day although the working week was still officially six days until 1948 when it was changed to five days.


Labour Day is also often referred to as May Day around the world. Internationally it is celebrated on 1 May and is known as International Workersв Day in more than 80 countries. International Workersв Day traces its international routes back to the 1886 Haymarket affair in Chicago, USA. The universal significance is that, across the world, the eight-hour day is the fairest working hours in a day for people in any industry. Today, Labour Day in Australia is known as Eight-Hour Day in Tasmania and May Day in the Northern Territory. It is always on a Monday, creating a long weekend. Marches or parades only usually occur in Queensland now, and not always there depending on the state government at the time.

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