If you were working in Australia in the 1800’s chances are you slogged away for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

And that might still have be the case today if it wasn’t for the union movement.

After a breakdown in negotiations with the government and business, workers decided to strike for better conditions.

In April 1856 a bunch of Melbourne stonemasons put their tools down and walked off the job, marching up to Parliament demanding fairer working conditions and an 8 hour day.

A banner workers used to rally for their rights.

“8 hours labour, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest.”

The demands were simple, breaking up a day into equal parts work, play and sleep.

Eventually workers struck a deal, reaching an agreement for a 48 hour working week with 8 hour days.

They celebrated with a victory march in May 1856 and Labour Day was born in Victoria.

Queensland came to the party a little later, with 8 hour days achieved in 1858.

The first Labour Day or ‘Eight Hour Day’ march wasn’t held in the Sunshine State until 1861.

So when you complain about your 9 to 5 grind, remember it could have been a lot worse if it wasn’t for unions and hard working labourers back in the 1800’s who stood up for their rights and the rights of workers for generations to come.

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