I was given a tough assignment from the Ed this month: my mission - to write a piece about the Labour Day public holiday. Most people (myself included) are blissfully ignorant about the origins of Labour Day and are just delighted to have yet another Public Holiday. So I set about doing some research to provide you with the facts so we can really appreciate just why we are getting a work or school free day!
Labour Day is a public holiday celebrating the achievement of the 8-hour day in the late 1850s. The Stonemasons who believed in eight hours labour, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest, spearheaded the movement: - After a long battle, the unions eventually achieved their aim and held parades to celebrate their victory.
Around Australia the movement pushed for the attainment of this ideal and other trades were invited to participate in the celebrations. The first parade was held in Melbourne on 21 April 1856. Before this time, workers were required to work 10 to 12 hour days, six days a week.
The five-day 40-hour week was achieved almost a century later in 1948. Today the Labour Day march is a celebration of organised labour's achievements on behalf of the worker.
I think a shorter working day is definitely something to celebrate - Happy Labour Day!
Australian states celebrate Labour Day on different days (2001):
WA March 5
Tasmania March 12 (Eight Hour Day)
Victoria March 8
NT/QLD May 7
ACT, NSW, SA October 1