Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day, Labour Day, 8 Hour Day : the confusion of labour movement commemorations & celebrations in Australia


In Australia, the role of May Day in the lives of working people is - in some places - completely overlooked.   In fact, there is national confusion when one wishes to establish who celebrates Labor Day when.  Perhaps the time for a national day to celebrate working people and their labour is long overdue.

From my own personal experience, the only two places where the May Day-Labour Day connection is/has been made is in Queensland and in the Northern Territory.  In each of these places, Labour Day is celebrated on the first Monday in May.  This sometimes means that Labour Day does fall on 1 May - but mostly it doesn't.  However, the May celebration does maintain the connection with May Day and its communal and labour connections.

Particularly confusing are the sites on the web which proclaim Queensland as celebrating Labour Day in October.  Please see here and here.  

However, the problem is resolved if one pays a visit to the Industrial Relations site of the Queensland Government relating to Public Holidays in Queensland.  Queensland moves away from the May Day connection this year. Labour Day moves to October to bring Queensland into line with the majority of states.

Victoria's Labour Day - celebrated in March (as it is in Tasmania) - has long since been abdicated to a less serious Melbourne jollity called Moomba.  This site gives dates and background to Labour Day in Australia.
As can be seen from the graphic below, the number of states celebrating an October date now outweighs the number celebrating a March date.  It would be interesting to know when a unified day for celebrating Labour Day will be reached.

If, dear Networker, you wish to get a handle on the background to all this,
might I suggest the Wikipedia entry on the Australian Labour Movement.

If you live in or near Melbourne, perhaps you would like participate in the May Day March sponsored by the Victorian Trades Hall Council Executive and the Melbourne May Day Committee please go here for more information.  And there's this Facebook site.

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