Mar 062020

Australia-the largest island country with a multi-cultural society is a wonderful place! There is a range of festivals that are celebrated in Australia with enthusiasm. Also, there is a long list of other significant days that are celebrated each year. Australia Labour Day that is observed on the first Monday in March is one such annual public holiday. 

Here, it must be remembered that in Australia, Labour day is not celebrated everywhere on the same date. It varies as per the dates when the rights of the workers of that particular state or territory were officially recognized. However, isn’t labour day is a public holiday in many other nations too? So, what makes the Australian Labour Day distinct from others? 

Well, it is the fascinating historical background of the Australian labour movement that makes the Australian Labour Day standout from the rest.

History of Austalia Labour Day

Today, people work for eight hours or sometimes a little more, but the situation was worse back in the early 19th century. At that time, most labourers use to work for 10-12 hours for six days a week which severely affects their health and safety. However, the labourers started to build a movement for reduced working hours and better working conditions in the 1850s. As a result, there was a well-planned protest on 21st April 1856 in Sydney. 

Stonemasons were the frontrunners of this protest in which they walk to the Parliament. The Government was not anticipating such a huge protest and had to bend finally. An agreement was made with the employers to have an eight hour working hours for labourers with no deduction in wages. However, the working class suffers immensely during the entire protest movement. Many of them were sacked by their employers because of their active participation in the movement.

Now, you must be wondering that when the protest was in April, what is the reason to celebrate the labour day in March in Western Austalia. Well, the history behind the same is quite interesting. It was exactly 35 years after the first protest that was held on May 1, 1891, that a labour march was organized in Queensland, Australia. It was attended by more than 1000 people eager to celebrate their victory. The leaders of the labour movement carried Eureka flags and wore sashes in blue to cheer for the reduced working hours. It was only after World War II that the labour day date was shifted from May to March. 

Know how Labour Day is celebrated in Australia

The Australian Labour Day is celebrated each year with great enthusiasm across the country. While many events were organized to keep the Aussies entertained during the weekend, gala parades are also organized at different places. A large number of people use to attend these parades with banners and flags to commemorate the victory of the working class. 

The curious case of number 888 on union buildings in Australia

During the Australian labour movement, the demand was for eight hours of work. The leaders of the movement advocated for 8 hours for work and 8 hours for recreation. They also believe that it is vital to have at least 8 hours of rest to be in sound health. This is the reason that many of the union buildings in Australia are often spotted with 888. There is even a monument in the city of Melbourne that features 888! It is known as the Eight-Hour monument. 

Isn’t it is apt to acknowledge the working class as the true heroes? It is because of their struggle that many workers across the nation can now have better work conditions. So, what do you think about labour activism? Please feel free to share your views because maybe we need another movement to work in a safer work environment.  

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