The Australian gold rushes attracted many skilled tradesmen to Australia. Some of them had been active in the chartist movement, and subsequently became prominent in the campaign for better working conditions in the Australian colonies.
Eight-hour day banner, Melbourne, 1856
The Stonemasons’ Society in Sydney issued an ultimatum to employers on 18 August 1855 saying that after six months masons would work only an eight-hour day.
Due to the rapid increase in population caused by the gold rushes, many buildings were being constructed, so skilled labour was scarce.
Stonemasons working on the Holy Trinity Church and the Mariners’ Church (an evangelical mission to seafarers), decided not to wait and pre-emptively went on strike, thus winning the eight-hour day.
They celebrated with a victory dinner on 1 October 1855 which to this day is celebrated as a Labour Day holiday in the state of New South Wales. When the six-month ultimatum expired in February 1856, stonemasons generally agitated for a reduction of hours.
Although opposed by employers, a two-week strike on the construction of Tooth’s Brewery on Parramatta Road proved effective, and stonemasons won an eight-hour day by early March 1856, but with a reduction in wages to match.
Agitation was also occurring in Melbourne where the craft unions were more militant. Stonemasons working on Melbourne University organized to down tools on 21 April 1856 and march to Parliament House with other members of the building trade.
The movement in Melbourne was led by veteran chartists and mason James Stephens, T.W. Vine and James Galloway. The government agreed that workers employed on public works should enjoy an eight-hour day with no loss of pay and Stonemasons celebrated with a holiday and procession on Monday 12 May 1856, when about 700 people marched with 19 trades involved.
By 1858 the eight-hour day was firmly established in the building industry.
From 1879 the eight-hour day was a public holiday in Victoria. The initial success in Melbourne led to the decision to organize a movement, to actively spread the eight-hour idea, and secure the condition generally.
In 1903 veteran socialist Tom Mann spoke to a crowd of a thousand people at the unveiling of the Eight Hour Day monument, funded by public subscription, on the south side of Parliament House.
Eight-hour day procession by miners in Wyalong, New South Wales – late 1890s
It took further campaigning and struggles by trade unions to extend the reduction in hours to all workers in Australia.
In 1916 the Victoria Eight Hours Act was passed granting the eight-hour day to all workers in the state. The eight-hour day was not achieved nationally until the 1920s.
The Commonwealth Arbitration Court gave approval of the 40-hour five-day working week nationally beginning on 1 January 1948.
The achievement of the eight-hour day has been described by historian Rowan Cahill as “one of the great successes of the Australian working class during the nineteenth century, demonstrating to Australian workers that it was possible to successfully organize, mobilize, agitate, and exercise significant control over working conditions and quality of life.
The Australian trade union movement grew out of eight-hour campaigning and the movement that developed to promote the principle.”
The intertwined numbers 888 soon adorned the fronts of many union buildings around Australia.
The Eight Hour March, which began on April 21, 1856, continued each year until 1951 in Melbourne, when the conservative Victorian Trades Hall Council decided to forgo the tradition for the Moomba festival on the Labour Day weekend.
In capital cities and towns across Australia, Eight Hour day marches became a regular social event each year, with early marches often restricted to those workers who had won an eight-hour day.
Black and white image of women carrying a banner which reads ‘Union of Australian Women’ in the 1963 May Day March in Melbourne.
This photograph was taken by G.W. Bell of Melbourne.
Description Of Content:
Women Marching in May Day March carrying a banner, there are church spires in the background behind them.
It should always be the aim of woman to rise from the degrading position assigned her in the age of bestial ignorance and brute power.
Henrietta Dugdale (1827–1918) was a passionate, confident, and assertive feminist who was one of the pioneers of Victoria, Australia’s feminist movement.
She founded the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society, the first of its kind in Australasia, and lived to see Australian women attain the vote in 1902, due in part to her relentless campaigning.
Henrietta was born Henrietta Augusta Worrell on May 14, 1827 in London, and named after her mother, Henrietta Ann.
She sewed her own clothes and was a skilled chess player, and early on became interested in public affairs. In 1852, she moved to Australia with her husband, a merchant navy officer named J. A. Davies. He died soon after, and she remarried the ship’s captain William Dugdale in 1853.
After over 15 years of marriage, Henrietta separated from William Dugdale and moved to Camberwell (a suburb of Melbourne), where she was to live for the rest of her long life.
Henrietta’s involvement in campaigning for women’s rights began in earnest when she wrote a letter to Melbourne’s Argus Newspaper that was published in April 1869. Using the psuedonym of Ada, she wrote about the Married Women’s Property Bill and spoke out in favor of equal justice for all women:
Along with suffrage for women, she campaigned for women’s dress reform, admission of women to the universities, education of the working class and more equal wealth distribution, and an eight-hour work day.
Along with Annie Lowe, Henrietta founded the Victorian Women’s Suffrage Society in 1884 with the goal of obtaining “the same political privileges for women as now possessed my male voters”.
As International Women’s Day is celebrated around the globe, we look back at the woman who organised the first one in 1911.
The 8 March marks International Women’s Day, a day with over a century of history and change behind it.
Originally known as International Working Women’s Day, its roots lie in the socialist, rather than feminist, struggle of the early 20th century.
Although national days had been celebrated prior to 1911, the 18 March of that year marked the first International day, following a proposal from German communist Clara Zetkin.Zetkin who had been involved with the socialist movement in Germany since the 1870’s.
She was also a fervent campaigner for women’s rights and universal suffrage. Zetkin believed socialism was the only movement that ‘could truly serve the needs of working-class women.’
Zetkin was renowned throughout her career for her passionate oratory skills. She represented the German Communist Party in the Reichstag from 1920 until 1933 (when the party was banned by Hitler).
Her election to the Reichstag in 1932 made her its oldest member, and tradition dictated she opened the parliamentary session. She did so with a 40 minute attack on Hitler and the Nazi party.
Zetkin died in 1933. In her obituary the Manchester Guardian referred to her as the ‘grandmother of communism,’ yet the legacy of International Women’s Day, and her contribution to it, should also be recognised, and celebrated.
Women played an active role in political reform in the Georgian era. 1819 ©Trustees of the British Museum
The women’s history project has been absolutely brilliant in opening our eyes to such a significant (but mainly unspoken) part of our country’s (and the world’s) history.
Our perceptions on the role of women in history is primarily based on stereotypes and uneducated inferences that women have been merely passive witnesses in the building of our current society, and it was only men who really made any impact.
A lot of us aim to excuse this by relying on the idea that women had limited opportunity.
However, the project has taught us that although this is partly true, women did a lot more than we first assumed.
These false assumptions can be argued to be a result of how women are represented on the curriculum, with us knowing lots about influential kings, prime ministers, archbishops, male scientists and authors etc. but little about not only influential women as individuals (e.g. Mary Seacole, Marie Curie etc.), but of the gender as a whole.
We were extremely surprised to learn of the Georgian political protesters, as the only thing we are taught about the role of women in politics is the movement of women’s suffrage in the early 1900s, and even then this topic is separated and highlighted as an exception and is only about their fight for equality, not the influence they have had throughout history and how they helped shape society into what it is today.
Read further via Why Women’s History? | Teaching Women’s History.
Pictured is poor old Wat Tyler being slain by one of Richard the Second’s thugs during the Peasant’s Rebellion in England during June, 1381.
Just when Wat Tyler and thousands of peasants (mainly women) were getting the upper hand in the Peasant’s Rebellion Wat Tyler made a terrible and fatal mistake.
He trusted the word of the Monarch who said, “Wat old chap let’s meet to see if we can stop these horrible women peasants from murdering rich people and stealing their fine cutlery”.
So Wat being a lowly peasant thought he’s the King I should trust him and have a nice quiet peaceful chat
WRONG! Wat never got the chance to even get off his horse before he was repeatedly stabbed by some of Richard’s henchman and was soon dead.
Probably, got hung, drawn and quartered as well just for good measure.
Needless to say the Peasant’s Rebellion fell in a great screaming heap and the Nobles took their vengeance on England’s poor.
They were fair game you see and fox hunting hadn’t been invented yet and hunting down and slaughtering humans was so much better fun!
The Peterloo Massacre published by Richard Carlile in 1819. Photograph: Courtesy of Manchester Libraries, Information and Archives
On the morning of 16 August 1819, an immense crowd poured into Manchester, perhaps the largest the town had ever seen.
They came in an orderly and peaceful fashion. Banners bearing slogans such as “Liberty and Fraternity” and “Taxation without Representation is Unjust and Tyrannical” flapped in the breeze, and bands played patriotic tunes including Rule Britannia and God Save the King. It was a fine and sunny day.
On they came in cheerful mood; organised contingents from Bolton and Bury; 6,000 marching from Rochdale and Middleton; others from Saddleworth and Stalybridge; 200 women dressed in white from Oldham, together with families bringing their children and picnics with them.
If later estimates that 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s Fields that day are correct, it means that practically half the population of Manchester and the surrounding towns (a crowd somewhat larger than that at Manchester City home matches today) had come to attend a meeting calling for parliamentary reform.
Having the vote mattered, they believed; it would change everything and force politicians to listen to their views and needs – and respond.
A young businessman, 25-year-old John Benjamin Smith, was watching with his aunt from a window overlooking the open space on the edge of the town near St Peter’s Church.
He later wrote: “There were crowds of people in all directions, full of good humour, laughing and shouting and making fun … It seemed to be a gala day with the country people who were mostly dressed in their best and brought with them their wives, and when I saw boys and girls taking their father’s hand in the procession, I observed to my aunt: ‘These are the guarantees of their peaceable intentions – we need have no fears.’”
The people were expecting speeches and a good day out. What they were not anticipating was violence, carried out by troops sent in to disperse them, so aggressively that 18 people would be killed and more than 650 injured in the bloodiest political clash in British history.
The Massacre of Peterloo! or a Specimen of English Liberty by JL Marks. Photograph: The Art Archive/Rex/Shutterstock
What happened at St Peter’s Fields would become known as the Peterloo Massacre – a name coined by a local journalist named James Wroe in punning reference to the Battle of Waterloo four years earlier.
Wroe paid for the joke by seeing his radical newspaper, the Manchester Observer, closed down, and was himself sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for seditious libel.
Read on via Source: The bloody clash that changed Britain | News | The Guardian
It was a time of great upheaval in Australia, when the ordinary people said “enough is enough”, and went out into the streets to protest.
The conflict in Vietnam was going poorly because the American and Australian Governments had so badly underestimated the strength and purpose of the North Vietnamese people.
The Vietnam Moratorium held in Melbourne on 5 May, 1970, was huge with veteran Labor Politician Jim Cairns taking centre stage in a stinging rebuff to the Coalition Government for its blind support of the American Government’s policies in South Vietnam.
Leading the Moratorium March Jim Cairns and Tom Uren (Front Row: fourth and third in from the right).