Summary

Postcard for community event to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the gaining of the Eight Hour Day issued 21 April 2006. The card features a photograph taken by Ponch Hawkes titled 'Lock-in at Union Carbide Factory', 1978.

Action taken by stonemasons on 21 April 1856 led to the establishment of the Eight Hour Day, with the government agreeing that workers employed on public works should enjoy an eight hour day with no loss of pay. It was a world first and became emblematic of the rights of labour. In recognition of the significance of this achievement, April 21 was made a public holiday in 1879 and commemorative marches were held each year from 1879 until 1951. The Eight Hour Day holiday was renamed Labour Day in 1934. In 1955 the Labour Day march and celebrations were replaced by Moomba celebrations.

Description of Content

The front of the postcard features an image of a group of theatre actors in costume forming a human pyramid outside a factory. A group of workers are standing behind a wire fence looking on. A band is playing in the background. Details of the 150th anniversary are printed on the back.

Physical Description

Printed postcard, with image and Eight Hour Day logo on front and text on back.

Significance

2006 marked the 150th anniversary of the Eight Hour Day in Victoria. Action taken by stonemasons on 21 April 1856 led to the establishment of the Eight Hour Day, with the government agreeing that workers employed on public works should enjoy an eight hour day with no loss of pay. It was a world first and became emblematic of the rights of labour.

Represented by the slogan 'eight hours labour, eight hours rest, eight hours recreation' and the intertwined numbers '888', the Eight Hour Day became a symbol of the rights of workers to organise to achieve their rights not only as workers, but as citizens in a democratic society.

Planning for the celebrations to mark the 150th anniversary commenced in mid 2003. The main program partners were Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Australian Society for the Study of Labor History, City of Melbourne, Heritage Victoria, Melbourne Workers Theatre, Museum Victoria, RMIT University, State Library of Victoria, University of Melbourne and Victorian Trades Hall Council. The final line-up for the program had 11 exhibitions, 3 theatrical shows, 2 conferences, a public forum, public lecture, 2 community events and a banquet.

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