Monday, 7 May 2012

May Day Parade

Today we are enjoying the May Day public holiday. In a few minutes the parade will begin through my city. As many unions as possible will take part and I have done so in the past. I truly believe in the role of unions to improve working conditions and to improve management as well. Without the union movement we are little more than slaves.

Labour Day commemorates the granting of the eight hour working day. It also recognises the role of the worker in Australia's economy.

Eureka flag
Labour Day or Eight Hour Day or May Day is a public holiday in Australia although it is not always celebrated on the same day. In Western Australia it is on the first Monday in March. In Victoria and Tasmania it is on the second Monday in March. In New South Wales, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory it is on the first Monday in October. In Queensland and here in the Northern Territory it is on the first Monday in May.

For this occasion all government offices are closed as well as all post offices, schools, and most businesses. Some public transport may not run.

During the mid to late 1800s the working day was long and many people worked twelve hours a day for six days a week.

In 1856 stonemasons marched on Parliament House in Melbourne and the struggle officially began. First came the 48 hour working week. The idea spread. In 1879 a paid public holiday was declared to celebrate the eight hour working day. Marches began in 1891. The Eureka flag was carried then as it still is today.

This is the chance for the little man, the worker, the bloke who puts up with everything, to be seen and heard.

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