In some areas of Australia, Eight Hours Day is celebrated on the second Monday of March. It is another name for Labor Day, which is celebrated on various dates around the globe to honour all working people who have fought for their rights collectively.
Eight Hours Day is a commemoration of the Australian Labour Movement, which began in the nineteenth century and included both unions and political organisations. The skilled tradesmen who refused to work long hours and demanded an eight-hour weekday initiated the strike. They protested until their employers arrived to the negotiating table, at which point they achieved their objectives.
The background of Eight Hours Day
Eight Hours Day in Australia is celebrated in Victoria, Tasmania, and Western Australia, among other regions. It is a commemoration of the victory of the stonemasons who demanded eight-hour workdays and refused to work until they were granted.
The eight-hour day or forty-hour week movement was a social movement to regulate the duration of a working day, regulate the workweek, and prevent worker abuse. The British established penal colonies in Australia where individuals were forced into indentured servitude. At the time, trade unions were illegal, and despite growing reforms, individuals who sought improved employment or quit their jobs without permission could be pursued.
When the Australian gold rush began, a large number of qualified workers migrated to the continent. Many of them participated in the Chartism movement, which advocated for people’s rights. These tradesmen worked with the Australian populace and began to demand improved working conditions and shorter workweeks.
Australia-wide eight-hour workdays were won by workers from a variety of industries and corporations through protests. The Stonemasons Society in Sydney then gave employers a six-month ultimatum to reduce work hours to eight-hour days. This triggered a series of protests across industries and labour unions in Sydney and New South Wales. The movement infiltrated Melbourne, commanded by seasoned Chartists.
A great deal of campaigning was required to extend the eight-hour day to all Australian workers, but the Eight Hours Act was ultimately passed in Victoria, guaranteeing all workers in the state the right to an eight-hour workday.
5 surprising facts about the eight-hour day
This empowered the workers to stand their ground and demand improved working conditions, given the high value of their services.
Stonemasons working on Holy Trinity Church and Mariner’s Church went on strike before the six-month deadline and won an eight-hour workday without wage reductions.
Victoria was the first state in Australia to approve the Eight Hours Act and ensure that all workers have limited work hours.
Tom Mann spoke at the unveiling of the Eight Hours Monument, which is now located in front of the Melbourne Trades Hall and was funded by public subscription.
On trade buildings in Australia, the intertwined 888 represents the eight-hour movement’s song about eight hours for labour, play, and sleep.
EIGHT HOURS DAY DATES