Melbourne is celebrating its Labour Day next Monday (14 March 2016), and yes, who doesn’t look forward to a long weekend and an extra day of rest?
Check out here for the 4 important facts we should know about the origin of the Labour Day in the state of Victoria:
1. The hardship of gold rush migrants
In the 1850, Melbourne was experiencing the gold rush that brought forth an influx of migrants to the city. To keep up with the demand of new infrastructure and constructions, the labours were required to endure long working hours, as well as harsh and arduous working conditions. Some employees worked up to 12 hours a day (or even more), and six days a week.
2. The eight-hour movement
A growing number of workers have had enough and decided to make a change. On 21 April 1856, a group of stonemasons walked off the job at Melbourne University, and marched proudly to the Parliament House to demand for a better working life. Those attended the protest carried striking banners with symbols of three 8’s- symbolizing 8 hours work, 8 hours recreation, and 8 hours rest.
3. The protest was a remarkable success
The courage of the stonemasons was well rewarded. An agreement of 8 hours per day and no reduction of wages was eventually reached with the employers. The bargain was a significant success for the workers. The exhilarated stonemasons celebrated with a holiday and a victorious procession on 12 May of the same year.
From 1879, the Eight-Hour-Day was declared as a public holiday in Victoria. In 1916, the Victoria Eight Hours Act was passed granting all workers in the state the 8-hour-day maximum hours guarantee. In 1934, the Eight-Hour-Day was renamed Labour Day.
4. Victory march each year
Following the celebratory procession on 12 May 1856, the victory march became a yearly event to commemorate the successful outcome in year 1856, attracting ten of thousands of participating crowds.
The marches began to decline during the Second World War and came to a halt in 1951. In 1955, almost a century after the first victorious march in 1856, the Moomba parade was introduced and became an annual fiesta celebrated by the Melbournians.
The coming Moomba parade will be held on 14 March 2016, at 10.30 a.m. along St Kilda Road, from the Shrine of Remembrance to Linlithgow Avenue. Check out more from here.