Friday, April 21, 2006

Eight Hour Day demo 150th anniversary

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

Banner from the Melbourne, 1856 demonstration

1856 The first eight-hour working day procession in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

In March, 1856, stonemasons working on Melbourne University held a public meeting and agreed that from April 21 they would work for only eight hours a day. Each working day should be one-third sleep, one-third work and one-third leisure. It was not a new concept; Robert Owen (1771 - 1858) had raised the demand for a ten-hour day as early as 1810, and instituted it in his socialist enterprise at New Lanark, Scotland. As early as 1817 he had formulated the goal of the eight-hour day and coined the slogan "Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest".

On April 21 there was a march to Parliament House with other members of the building trade. The movement in Melbourne was led by veteran chartists and mason James Stephens (1821 - 1889), TW Vine and James Galloway. The government agreed that workers employed on public works should enjoy an eight-hour day with no loss of pay and stonemasons celebrated with a holiday and procession on Monday May 12, 1856, when about 700 people marched with 19 trades involved.

By 1858 the eight-hour day was firmly established in the building industry and by 1860 the eight-hour day was fairly widely worked in the State of Victoria. From 1879 the eight-hour day was a public holiday in that state. The initial success in Melbourne led to the decision to organise a movement, to actively spread the eight-hour idea and secure the condition generally. Australia became the first country in the world to legislate for an eight-hour day...

Source: Wikipedia

Early progressives in the Book of Days :: CounterCulture Wiki

See also 'The Abolition of Work', by Bob Black, in the Almanac's Scriptorium

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