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Labour Day in Australia

Quick Facts

Labour Day in Australia celebrates workers’ role in contributing towards the nation’s economy. It is an annual public holiday but its date varies across the states and territories.

Local names

NameLanguage
Labour DayEnglish
Tag der ArbeitGerman

Labour Day 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014 (Western Australia)
Monday, March 10, 2014 (Victoria)
Monday, March 10, 2014 (Tasmania)
Monday, May 5, 2014 (Northern Territory)
Monday, October 6, 2014 (Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales)
Monday, October 6, 2014 (South Australia)
Monday, October 6, 2014 (Queensland)

Labour Day 2015

Monday, March 2, 2015 (Western Australia)
Monday, March 9, 2015 (Victoria)
Monday, March 9, 2015 (Tasmania)
Monday, May 4, 2015 (Northern Territory)
Monday, October 5, 2015 (Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales)
Monday, October 5, 2015 (South Australia)
Monday, October 5, 2015 (Queensland)
List of dates for other years

Labour Day, also known as Eight Hours Day in Tasmania and May Day in the Northern Territory, commemorates the granting of the eight-hour working day for Australians. It also recognizes workers’ contributions towards the nation’s economy. It is an annual public holiday and its date varies across the states and territories.

labor Day

Labor Day recognizes the efforts of workers worldwide.

©iStockphoto.com/mstahlphoto

What do people do

Many people use the Labour Day holiday as part of a long weekend where they can relax, spend time with friends or family members, play or watch sport, have barbecues. Some people plan a getaway trip to a coastal region, the mountains or the countryside where they can engage in various activities such as picnics, wine-tasting at a winery, bush-walking, or camping.

Throughout the nation, Labour Day is an occasion for unions, community groups and the general public to join in celebration. In Queensland’s capital city of Brisbane there are marches are held on or around Labour Day. They are often led by the state’s key political leaders and influential key figures. Union members often take part in these marches.

Public life

Labour Day is a public holiday in all states and territories in Australia. It is observed in Western Australia on the first Monday in March and on the second Monday in March in Victoria and Tasmania. The Northern Territory observes Labour Day on the first Monday in May. It is held on the first Monday of October in Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, and South Australia. Until 2012, Queensland observed Labour Day on the first Monday in May.

During this holiday government offices are closed, as are post offices, schools and many businesses. Those planning on using public transport on this holiday need to check with the local transport authorities prior to travelling.

Background

The history of Labour Day in Australia spans over a century. It is an important annual event that remembers those who struggled and succeeded to ensure decent and fair working conditions in Australia. During the mid to late 1800s the working day was long and arduous, where some employees would work up to 12 hours a day, six days a week.

Many Australians saw the need for better working conditions and in the 1850s there was a strong push for this. On April 21, 1856, stonemasons at the University of Melbourne marched to Parliament House to push for an eight-hour working day. An agreement with employers for a 48-hour week was eventually reached and Australian workers welcomed the new eight-hour day. A victory march was held on May 12 that year and each year after that. In 1856 the new work regulations were recognized in New South Wales, followed by Queensland in 1858 and South Australia in 1873.

In 1874, Tasmania joined the other states, which were colonies at the time, in adopting the shorter eight-hour working day. In 1879 the Victorian Government made one further step towards better conditions for employees by proclaiming a paid public holiday that year. In light of the labour movement’s successful push for an eight-hour day, a large May Day meeting was held in Melbourne in 1890. On May 1 that year a local newspaper made reference to that day as May Day.

One of the first May Day/Labour Day marches in Australia occurred on May 1, 1891 in Queensland. More than 1000 people participated in the march and carried banners. The leaders wore blue sashes and the Eureka flag was carried. It was reported that cheers were given for “the eight-hour day”. The Labour Day date was moved from May to the second Monday in March in some parts of Australia after World War II.  Since 1948, Labour Day in Western Australia has been observed on the first Monday in March. It marks the granting of the eight hour working day to Western Australians.

Symbols

The number eight has often been spotted on many union buildings in Australia to symbolize an eight-hour working day.  For example, the Eight-Hour monument featuring a golden globe bearing the 888 symbol was erected in Spring Street in Melbourne in 1903.

Renowned Australian writer and poet Henry Lawson (1867-1922) wrote a poem “Freedom on the Wallaby” to mark one of the largest May Day/Labour Day demonstrations in Queensland in 1891 where it was reported that cheers were made for “the eight-hour day”. There have been other songs and poems that refer to the theme behind this holiday and the efforts of the labour movement in modern times such as “The Eight-Hour Day” by John Warner, calling for Australians to stand up united and maintain their rights to an eight-hour work day.

Disclaimer: Precise dates for this holiday in Australia in the late 19th century and early 20th century have not been confirmed, however based on research, estimates have been provided for the earlier dates of this holiday. Timeanddate.com would appreciate any historical fact on these dates, so please contact us at: webmaster@timeanddate.com .

About Labour Day in other countries

Read more about Labour Day.

Labour Day Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
MonMar 51990Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 51990Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 121990Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 71990May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 71990Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 11990Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 81990Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 41991Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 41991Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 111991Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 61991May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 61991Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 71991Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 141991Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 21992Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 21992Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 91992Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 41992May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 41992Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 51992Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 121992Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 11993Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 11993Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 81993Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 31993May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 31993Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 41993Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 111993Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 71994Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 71994Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 141994Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 21994May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 21994Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 31994Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 31994Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 61995Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 61995Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 131995Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 11995May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 11995Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 21995Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 21995Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 41996Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 41996Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 111996Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 61996May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 61996Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 71996Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 71996Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 31997Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 31997Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 101997Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 51997May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 51997Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 61997Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 61997Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 21998Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 21998Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 91998Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 41998May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 41998Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 51998Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 51998Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 11999Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 11999Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 81999Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 31999May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 31999Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 41999Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 41999Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 62000Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 62000Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMar 132000Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMay 12000May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 12000Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 22000Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 22000Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 52001Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 122001Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 122001Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 72001May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 72001Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 12001Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 12001Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 42002Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 112002Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 112002Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 62002May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 62002Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 72002Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 72002Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 32003Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 102003Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 102003Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 52003May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 52003Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 62003Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 62003Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 12004Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 82004Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 82004Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 32004May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 32004Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 42004Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 42004Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 72005Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 142005Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 142005Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 22005May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 22005Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 32005Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 32005Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 62006Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 132006Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 132006Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 12006May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 12006Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 22006Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 22006Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 52007Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 122007Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 122007Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 72007May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 72007Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 12007Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 12007Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 32008Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 102008Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 102008Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 52008May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 52008Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 62008Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 62008Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 22009Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 92009Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 92009Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 42009May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 42009Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 52009Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 52009Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 12010Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 82010Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 82010Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 32010May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 32010Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 42010Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 42010Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 72011Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 142011Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 142011Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 22011May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 22011Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 32011Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 32011Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 52012Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 122012Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 122012Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 72012May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonMay 72012Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonOct 12012Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 12012Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonMar 42013Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 112013Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 112013Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 62013May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 72013Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 72013Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 72013Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonMar 32014Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 102014Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 102014Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 52014May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 62014Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 62014Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 62014Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonMar 22015Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 92015Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 92015Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 42015May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 52015Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 52015Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 52015Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonMar 72016Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 142016Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 142016Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 22016May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 32016Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 32016Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 32016Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonMar 62017Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 132017Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 132017Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 12017May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 22017Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 22017Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 22017Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonMar 52018Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 122018Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 122018Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 72018May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 12018Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 12018Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 12018Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonMar 42019Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 112019Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 112019Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 62019May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 72019Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 72019Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 72019Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland
MonMar 22020Labour DayCommon Local holidaysWestern Australia
MonMar 92020Labour DayCommon Local holidaysVictoria
MonMar 92020Eight Hours DayCommon Local holidaysTasmania
MonMay 42020May DayCommon Local holidaysNorthern Territory
MonOct 52020Labour DayCommon Local holidaysAustralian Capital Territory, New South Wales
MonOct 52020Labour DayCommon Local holidaysSouth Australia
MonOct 52020Labour DayCommon Local holidaysQueensland

Other holidays in October 2014 in Australia

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