May Day 2024

May Day 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.

The Australian Labour movement got involved the following year in 1891 with the Shearer’s Strike. In Barcaldine, Queensland, over 1300 workers took part, carrying Union banners and the Eureka Flag.

The original May Day protest quickly grew into global celebration of workers and our movement.

May Day is our day to celebrate how far we have come as a movement and here are some exciting examples of how union branches around the country celebrated this important day…

It was a top day in Hobart for May Day. Members and their families paraded through the CBD and enjoyed celebrating the biggest event on the union calendar.

Tassie is the only state or jurisdiction that doesn’t have industrial manslaughter legislated.

“What do we want?”
“Industrial manslaughter laws”
“When do we want it?”

The rain stayed away as SA’s union movement came together to celebrate May Day with our annual march through the city. CEPU members stood arm in arm in solidarity with our fellow union comrades to march for better a future and then stayed to catch up as part of the May Day family Fun Day. 2024 has been a massive year so far for our union members across SA and we look forward to fighting and winning more improved workers’ rights and wages and good union jobs.

Across Queensland and the Northern Territory, thousands of ETU members united to celebrate May Day 2024at close to 20 locations. From the massive assembly in Brisbane, where thousands marched, to the smaller gatherings on Thursday Island, Alice Springs and Barcaldine – the birthplace of the Labour movement – the sentiment was consistent: Proud to be Union, and even prouder to be ETU! This year’s shirt encapsulated the spirit perfectly with the message, “If You Don’t Fight You Lose”. Many observers commented that the Brisbane ETU contingent was the biggest for a few years and other locations reported running out of shirts. Great work comrades.

ETU members from all over Sydney came out, despite the weather forecast, to celebrate the achievements of the union movement in Australia and around the world, marching proudly alongside each other.

Thanks also to our legendary members for their solidarity with ETU members at Transgrid who are fighting for better wages and conditions at Transgrid. We paid a visit to their headquarters in Sydney and sent a strong message to CEO Brett Redman who hasn’t once turned up to the bargaining table or engaged with the union.

ETU members in Wollongong braved the weather this morning to march proudly for May Day!!

Congratulations to all who turned up to celebrate the achievements of the union movement in the region and around the world. We’re proud to have such tough, dedicated members in the Illawarra and south coast region

ETU members in Newcastle showed how it’s done. Marching with fellow union members from the Newcastle Museum to the Newcastle Tramsheds, then enjoying a day of fun with union members and their friends and families.

May Day in WA saw a fantastic turnout of unionists and their families who came down to the Esplanade to celebrate the industrial achievements of working people.

We were proud to have a strong ETU delegation back this year with a major highlight from Co-Executive Officer Kate Lee from APHEDA who spoke about the importance of global justice and how, through collective organising we can build equity and justice in our communities and societies.

Our members and their families flew their ETU banners and wore their ETU shirts with pride – a few enthusiasts among the pack may have lost their voices after the march around Fremantle.

A great day was had by all, and it signalled a welcome return to the well-attended May Day celebrations had prior to 2020.

This article was publised on 31 May 2024.