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1 September 1873 48-Hour Week

 1 September 1873 48-Hour Week

On 1 September 1873 450 employees and 50 employers came together at a banquet to celebrate the first 48 hour week. This had been achieved through the efforts of building trade workers who had appointed a committee to work on an agreement acceptable to the industry. The first firm approached was one of the largest contracting firms in the city and after negotiations the agreement was signed. At the dinner, held in Whites Rooms, Sir Henry Ayers gave an address in which he said in part:

The improvement in steam and water power ought to benefit the working classes and shorten their hours of toil. Thus they would be able to improve their minds and raise themselves socially and increase their political power.

Labor began to be heard in parliament when in 1893 ten of its nominees were elected to the House of Assembly and it was then that the principle of an eight-hour day received legislative sanction. The celebration of this achievement is carried on with Labor Day holiday and parade. The 40-hour week was sanctioned in 1948.

‘How Labor Day was born’, The News, 11 October 1938, Newspaper Cuttings Book, Volume 2, p.124.

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