09 Aug Just what is Labour Day about anyway?
Australians in the 1850s worked 12 hours a day, six days a week in a brutal, unregulated work place. On the seventh day, after a spot of church time, they trundled home in their Sunday best for a roast and a well-earned rest before doing it all again. But that was then and this is now thanks largely to a Brit called Robert Owen who believed people should have eight hours to work, eight hours for play and eight hours to sleep – literally The Eight Hours Movement.
By the late 1850s Mr Owen’s dream of an eight-hour day was a legislated reality in Australia and Labour Day is a public holiday way of celebrating this. The irony of a public holiday to celebrate working less by doing even less is not missed, but hey who’s complaining?
Each state and territory legislated the eight-hour day on different dates so each celebrates Labour Day on different days. Victoria and Tasmania’s turn is the second Monday in March. Beware the idle of March?
And here’s an interesting bit of trivia to finish with. Next time you pass a Union building keep an eye out for the numbers 888 on a plaque, a brick or a wall. These went up all over the country way back in the day in support of the new era of workplace regulation.
If you would like any information on Employment Law, please contact Marshalls+Dent Lawyers on 9670 5000 or visit www.mdlaw.com.au