History of Labour Day in Australia (for our younger readers!)
Labour Day in Australia commemorates the achievements of organized labour to implement the eight-hour day in the middle of the nineteenth century when previously workers were required to work 10 – 12 hours a day for six days a week.
While a change was made to the hours worked each day, the five day work week that most people enjoy today took almost a hundred years longer and was finally adopted in 1948.
Many union buildings across Australia have the numbers 888 on them. 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 21st April 1856.
The present day parades across Australia, are an enduring reminder of the advances made by the unions on behalf of the workers.
Labour Day is celebrated at different times across Australia because each state achieved the 8-hour day on different dates.