Monday, March 9, 2009

once we called it eight hour day...

well, it's a very political weekend... after International Women's Day yesterday (see last post), today celebrates labour day, which has its origins in the Eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest....

"The Eight Hour Day 1856-2006

On 21 April 1856, following negotiations between building tradesmen and contractors, and with the approval of the colonial government, an eight hour day was introduced into the building trades in Melbourne. The movement was led by the stonemasons who argued that eight hours a day was appropriate in the Australian heat. It would also give them time to improve their 'social and moral condition'.

Two employers, with substantial contracts for public buildings at the Western Market and Parliament House, resisted the new working hours agreement. In response to their intransigency, the stonemasons lead a protest march from University of Melbourne to Parliament House, calling out workers at building sites on the way. Within a fortnight the contractors had given way.

Melbourne's building workers, generally without loss of pay or other conditions, had gained an unprecedented widespread and sustainable victory.

Their achievement established a national and international standard to which working people everywhere could aspire. It was widely celebrated as a world first and formed the basis of Australia's reputation as a 'workingman's paradise'.

However, only a minority of workers initially won the Eight Hour Day. Most workers, including women and children, generally worked longer hours for less pay. It was common to work twelve to sixteen hours a day." 8 hour

"The Eight Hour March, which began on April 21, 1856, continued each year until 1951 in Melbourne, when the conservative Victorian Trades Hall Council decided to forgo the tradition for the Moomba festival on the Labour Day weekend." Wikipedia.

having been born on April 21st, my birthday falls on the date of a very significant win in the workers' struggle!!! I quite like that idea!!

I couldn't imagine having to work a 12 - 16 hour day (especially working with the public!)... it would send me insane!!!!!

I sometimes feel like I need this stress reduction kit after an 8 hour day (or shorter)!!!

and I'll finish this post with "Ode to the Eight Hours' Pioneers" by Hamilton Mackinnon, April 21, 1896....

In this Victoria, our dear land,
The first that dared be free,
To show the world what freedom meant
In new lands 'cross the sea


Anonymous said...

hey babe, love your blog. sorry about the suspense on mine but I really think info will be out very soon and I've been asked to keep mum until it is. nothing bad- actually more opps for staff to move up the ranks, as well as a new chick (wendy) starting on desk this week.
I spent womyns day with my lovely ladeis Sharnee and Tania, having ice- cream at Altona beach and sharing life stories- lovely!


sounds like a very fitting way to spend womyns day... and companionably wonderful!!!

and i'll know soon enough what's going to be happening i'm sure...

but now it's time for you to forget about work and enjoy your time at home...

Anonymous said...

yes indeed. I'm about to grab the bus whic stops at the end of my street and takes me to Williamstown beach.
A beach-stroll with a weak coffee, followed by some pottering around the shops and a visit to the library.
then back home for 1pm kitty-nap (that's me napping with the kitties)on the couch. bliss.