Labour Day is observed in Western Australia on the first Monday in March and on the second Monday in March in Victoria and Tasmania. It is celebrated in the Northern Territory and Queensland on the first Monday in May. It is held on the first Monday of October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia.
During the mid to late 1800s the working day was long and arduous, where some employees would work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week. Many Australians saw the need for better working conditions and in the 1850s there was a strong push for this. On April 21, 1856, stonemasons at the University of Melbourne marched to Parliament House to push for an eight-hour working day. An agreement with employers for a 48-hour week was eventually reached and Australian workers welcomed the new eight-hour day. A victory march was held on May 12 that year and each year after that. In 1856 the new work regulations were recognized in New South Wales, followed by Queensland in 1858 and South Australia in 1873.
One of the first Labour Day marches in Australia occurred on May 1, 1891 in Queensland. More than 1000 people participated in the march and carried banners. The leaders wore blue sashes and the Eureka flag was carried. It was reported that cheers were given for “the eight-hour day”. The Labour Day date was moved from May to the second Monday in March in some parts of Australia after World War II. Since 1948, Labour Day in Western Australia has been observed on the first Monday in March. It marks the granting of the eight hour working day to Western Australians.
Throughout the nation, Labour Day is an occasion for unions, community groups and the general public to join in celebration. In Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane there are marches are held on or around Labour Day. They are often led by the state’s key political leaders and influential key figures. Union members often take part in these marches.
The facts on this page are gathered from www.TimeAndDate.com