May Day, unofficially known as ‘Union Christmas’ is a global day on 1 May each year to celebrate our victories as a movement, commemorate our defeats and dream of a better world to come.
The May Day protests grew out of the struggle for the eight-hour day. Stonemasons in Melbourne and Sydney had won the eight-hour day as a general industry standard in 1856, setting an international benchmark. In the decades to come workers campaigned to extend the right to other industries.
On 1 May 1886 in the United States somewhere between 300,000 to 500,000 workers took strike action for the eight-hour day. For the next three years in the U.S the labour movement was suppressed, but in 1890 a global day of protest was held to commemorate the 1 May strikes in the united states.
The Australian Labour movement got involved the following year in 1891 with the Shearer’s Strike. In Barcaldine, Queensland, over 1300 workers took part (with around 600 on horseback) with union banners and carrying the Eureka Flag.
The original May Day protest was supposed to be just that, one protest. But it quickly grew into something much more: a global celebration of workers and our movement.
Join a May Day event in your state to celebrate this fantastic day.
New South Wales
Port Kembla – 6 May, Wentworth St, Port Kembla, (midday)
Queensland & NT
1 May (Monday) is a public holiday in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Events are being held from 28 April to 6 May in the following cities and towns: Alice Springs, Brisbane, Blackwater, Bundaberg, Barcaldine, Cairns, Darwin, Gold Coast, Gladstone, Ipswich, Mackay, Maryborough, Moranbah, Rockhampton, Sunshine Coast, Thursday Island, Toowoomba, Townsville.
Devonport – 1 May, Devonport Football Club, 4.30pm
Adelaide – 29 May, Victoria Square, 10am
Fremantle – 30 April, Esplanade Park, 10am