Labour Day 2017

Date Day Holiday State
2017      
6 Mar Mon Labour Day Western Australia
13 Mar Mon Eight Hours Day Tasmania
13 Mar Mon Labour Day Victoria
1 May Mon May Day Northern Territory
1 May Mon Labour Day Queensland
2 Oct Mon Labour Day Australian Capital Territory,
New South Wales &
South Australia

Labour Day 2018

Date Day Holiday State
2018      
5 Mar Mon Labour Day Western Australia
12 Mar Mon Eight Hours Day Tasmania
12 Mar Mon Labour Day Victoria
7 May Mon May Day Northern Territory
7 May Mon Labour Day Queensland
1 Oct Mon Labour Day Australian Capital Territory,
New South Wales &
South Australia

Labour Day has its roots in the labour union movement, in particular the eight-hour day movement which fought for each person to have eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation and eight hours for rest.

In the early 19th century, most labourers worked 10 or 12-hour days for six days each week. The first march for an eight hour day occurred in Melbourne on 21st April 1856. Stonemasons and building trade workers at the University of Melbourne stopped work and marched to Parliament House. Their fight was for an eight-hour day, effectively a 48-hour week to replace the 60-hour week. Their protest was successful and the government agreed to an eight-hour day for workers employed on public works, with no loss of pay.

Over the next two decades, one by one, the states brought in the eight-hour-day although the working week was still officially six days until almost a hundred years later in 1948 when it was changed to five days.

The Labour Day public holiday is fixed by the various state and territory governments, and so varies considerably. It is the first Monday in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. In Victoria and Tasmania, it is the second Monday in March (though the latter calls it Eight Hours Day). In Western Australia, Labour Day is the first Monday in March. In the Northern Territory and Queensland it is called May Day and occurs on the first Monday in May.

Eight Hour monument in Melbourne

Eight Hour monument in Melbourne