Happy Labour Day, Australia!

Labour Day

Eight Hour Day Banner, Melbourne, 1856. Wikimedia Common, public domain.

Today is Labour Day in Australia, the day in which Aussies commemorate the achievements of the Australian labour movement.

Once upon a time, workers to Australia came from England under Penal transportation and prisoners were under the condition of slavery. Under the Master and Servant Act, workers worked long hours, 10 to 12 hours a day, sometimes more, six days a week. As little as an hour’s absence from work resulted in the forfeit of wages and even imprisonment. The Act, which required obedience and loyalty from servants to their contracted employer, was also used against workers organizing for better conditions.

It didn’t stop a courageous group of workers though. On April 21, 1856, Stonemasons and other building workers on building sites throughout Melbourne stopped working. They marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament House demanding an eight-hour day. Their protest was a success and they are noted as being among the first organized workers in the world to achieve an eight-hour day with no loss of pay.

There have been many more developments since then including the improvement of working conditions, better wages, the five-day work week, and, of course, the emergence of the Australian Labour Party.

Take a load off, have fun, and stay safe on this Labour Day holiday!

Comments

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8 Comments

  1. Aha! This had me very confused until I remembered that it’s only Labour Day in Vic and QLD today. Rhe rest of us have to wait till October 🙁

    And there was me thinking I had missed a public holiday!

  2. Cosette i couldnt comment on your last blog so i will leave this here with you .. i live in australia and i always have and i find our personal hygiene brands arent as good as they should be i went to a big w and tried tampax and loved it i love my pearls. my mum was at a crazy clarks the other day and they had four boxes of tampax super applicators for $3 each my mum bought them all for me and the always infinity pads are here in australia under another name!! they are under whisper ultra thins…you can get the maxis aswell….you can get these any where…i get a 40 pack from big w for just $10 and they are purely amazing,there is regular and super and overnights!!! im having trouble finding pearls at the moment and i really dont want to pay $7.45 a box……please let me know if you can find places i can get tampax pearls….i only have the cardboard applicator atm but pearls are so much better!!!

    • Hi Kasey. I don’t have a regular source for Tampax Peals in Melbourne. I just buy them when I see them, which happens from time to time. The last time I saw them was about two weeks ago in Priceline.

  3. What a neat little history lesson! This is one of those things you hear about, know about from knowing Australians but I never took the time to ask what it meant. Thank you!

    • I need to read more about Australia’s history. There’s a lot of cool info to discover. Thanks for your comments, Kelli!

  4. That is a really neat history factoid! So cool that Aussie’s were the one of the earliest to stand up for labor rights!

    • Australia has been very progressive in a number of ways. It was the second country in the world to grant women the right to vote.

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