Eight Hour Movement Monument

Eight Hour Movement Monument, Melbourne

Public Art : Eight Hour Movement Monument

Designer : © Percival Ball

Description: The Eight Hour Monument erected in honour of the eight hour working day. The monument includes a granite column topped with the figures 888 and a globe encircled with the words "Rest Labour and Recreation".

Date Unveiled: The Eight Hour Monument was unveiled 21st April, 1903

Funded: By public subscription

Location : The monument was originally located in Gordon Reserve but can now be found on the corner of Russell & Victoria Streets in Melbourne, Australia.

What Was The Eight Hour Movement? It all started in Melbourne in 1856 when working conditions were pretty harsh. Around this time there were a large number of public buildings being erected in Melbourne which meant there was a great demand for skilled workers. The workers felt they were being unfairly treated and saw it as a perfect time to negotiate better wages and conditions. On April the 21st the stonemasons, working on the Old Quadrangle Building (now Melbourne University), downed their tools and marched on Parliament House , which was also being constructed, to demand an 8 hour working day or as the movement defined 8 hours labour, 8 hours rest, 8 hours recreaction. The well executed march won them the 8 hour working day and thus making the Melbourne tradies one of the first group of workers in the world to be given these conditions.

While their demands were met, not all workers were given the 8 hour working day. It did however set a standard for trade unions to negotiate better conditions.

Following the April victory the movement had an annual celebration and procession which eventually lead to a public holiday in 1879 called Labour Day.The holiday was later changed to March, due to ANZAC Day parade following World War I.

In the late 1880s a committee was formed to help raise money for a monument. A site was allocated at Capentaria Reserve (now Gordon Reserve) in 1890 adjacent to the Parliament Buildings, where the stone masons first protested. Unfortunately the 1890's was also a time of economic woe so the project was shelved for a later date. The orginal monument, designed by Percival Ball, was to depict allegorical life size figures but by the time the project was reignited in the early 1900s the design was scaled down. Ball's final design included a granite column topped with the figures 888 and a globe encircled with the words Rest Labour and Recreation.

The unveiling of the monument was on the 21st of April, 1903 with all the surviving pioneers of 1856 in attendance . The tradesmen of Ballarat erected and dedicated the monument to Thomas Galloway, the founder of the 8 hour system in Victoria.

In early 1923 the monument was relocated by the council to the corner of Russell and Victoria Streets opposite the Trades Hall and was unveiled once again on the 21st of January 1923.

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