The Eight Hours movement
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Vicfix is improving the searchability of digitised newspaper articles and making the hidden details of Victoria's rich history available for everyone.
About the Eight Hours movement
In April 1856, stonemasons working on the Melbourne University site downed tools and marched to Parliament House to call for a reduction in working hours. The government reduced hours for public works labourers, making them among the first organised workers in the world to achieve an eight-hour day without loss of pay.
On 12 May 1856, 700 workers celebrated their achievement of 'Eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest' with a public parade. The eight-hour day was widespread in Victoria by 1860, and was commemorated with a public holiday in 1879. Renamed Labour Day, it's the precursor of today's annual Moomba holiday, although the eight-hour day wasn't achieved nationally until the 1920s.
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