The history of Labour Day in Australia spans over a century. It is an important annual event that remembers those who struggled and succeeded to ensure decent and fair working conditions in Australia. During the mid to late 1800s the working day was long and arduous, where some employees would work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.
Many Australians saw the need for better working conditions and in the 1850s there was a strong push for this. On April 21, 1856, stonemasons at the University of Melbourne marched to Parliament House to push for an eight-hour working day. An agreement with employers for a 48-hour week was eventually reached and Australian workers welcomed the new eight-hour day. A victory march was held on May 12 that year and each year after that. In 1856 the new work regulations were recognized in New South Wales, followed by Queensland in 1858 and South Australia in 1873.
In 1874, Tasmania joined the other states in adopting the shorter eight-hour working day. In 1879 the Victorian Government made one further step towards better conditions for employees by proclaiming a paid public holiday that year. In light of the labour movement’s successful push for an eight-hour day, a large May Day meeting was held in Melbourne in 1890. On May 1 that year a local newspaper made reference to that day as May Day.
One of the first May Day/Labour Day marches in Australia occurred on May 1, 1891 in Queensland. More than 1000 people participated in the march and carried banners. The leaders wore blue sashes and the Eureka flag was carried. It was reported that cheers were given for “the eight-hour day”. The Labour Day date was moved from May to the second Monday in March in some parts of Australia after World War II. Since 1948, Labour Day in Western Australia has been observed on the first Monday in March. It marks the granting of the eight hour working day to Western Australians.
What do people do?
Many people use the Labour Day holiday as part of a long weekend where they can relax, spend time with friends or family members, play or watch sport, have barbecues. Some people plan a getaway trip to a coastal region, the mountains or the countryside where they can engage in various activities such as picnics, wine-tasting at a winery, bush-walking, or camping. Throughout the nation, Labour Day is an occasion for unions, community groups and the general public to join in celebration. In Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane there are marches are held on or around Labour Day. They are often led by the state’s key political leaders and influential key figures. Union members often take part in these marches.
Our primary objective is to expand the humane culture and to familiarize people more with nature and international days. Learning the skills and the essence of loving each other is an extended art that is fully elaborated in the poem of SADI - the Iranian well-known poet :
The children of humanity are each others limbs
That shares an origin in their creator
When one limb passes its days in pain
The other limbs can not remain easy
You who feel no pain at the suffering of others
It is not fitting you be called human