Labour Day in Australia is a public holiday on dates which vary between states and territories. It is the first Monday in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. In Victoria and Tasmania, it is the second Monday in March (though the latter calls it Eight Hours Day). In Western Australia, Labour Day is the first Monday in March. In Queensland and the Northern Territory, Labour Day occurs on the first Monday in May (though the latter calls it May Day). It is on the fourth Monday of March in the territory of Christmas Island.
The first march for an eight-hour day by the labour movement occurred in Melbourne on 21 April 1856 On this day stonemasons and building workers on building sites around Melbourne stopped work and marched from the University of Melbourne to Parliament House to achieve an eight-hour day. Their direct action protest was a success, and they are noted as being among the first organised workers in the world to achieve an 8-hour day, with no loss of pay
Labour Day Australia (Labor Day in the United States) is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labour Day has its origins in the labour union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest.
For most countries, Labour Day Australia is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers’ Day, which occurs on 1 May. For other countries, Labour Day is celebrated on a different date, often one with special significance for the labour movement in that country. Labour Day is a public holiday in many countries.
In Canada and the United States, the holiday is celebrated on the first Monday of September and considered the unofficial end of summer, with summer vacations ending and students returning to school around then.
Labour Day Australia History
Labour Day in Victoria celebrates the achievements of workers and their struggle for an 8-hour work day. On April 21, 1856, workers marched through the streets of Melbourne demanding an 8-hour working day. Their protest was ultimately successful and earned the Australians a reduced work day and more humane working conditions. The day serves to remember all of those who endured harsh working conditions and the battle to secure better working conditions.
Labour Day is an annual holiday in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory and is celebrated on the first Monday of October. Elsewhere in the country, it is referred to as Eight Hours Day or as Labour Day but celebrated on differing dates.
Labour Day Australia Facts & Quotes
In Queensland, the first Labour Day celebration was held in Brisbane on 16 March 1861.
The original work week was reduced to 48 hours (6 days a week at 8 hours a day). The five-day week was only adopted in 1948.
The march that took place on 21 April 1856, saw stonemasons marching from the University of Melbourne to the Parliament House.
“Choose a job that you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” – Confucius
“All life demands struggle. Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life. The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today”. – Pope Paul VI
Labour Day Top Events and Things to Do
Enjoy the long weekend during the height of the Australian summer. Get out and take advantage of the weather by having a BBQ or park day.
Learn more about the fundamental rights of workers in Australia. The Australian Government provides a comprehensive list of your rights and obligations in the workplace. Read up and know your rights.
Watch a documentary about the lack of workers’ rights in other countries. Some of our favourites: Santa’s Workshop, Rednecks and Culchies and Apple’s Broken Promises. Ten Professions that have the highest Suicide Rates
Attend a local Labour Day Parade. Most local communities host their own parade or head to a city centre and join in on the larger parade.
Read a popular book to help shape your perspective of workers’ rights. Our favourites include: Gender, Labor and Power in the Global Apparel Industry, Fugitive Denim, Making Sweatshops and The Power to Choose.
Labour Day References and Related Sites
Wendy Lewis; Simon Balderstone; John Bowman (2006). Events that Shaped Australia. New Holland Publishers. p. 57. ISBN 978-1-74110-492-9. Retrieved 7 March 2016. Events That Shaped Australia