May Day is one of the most significant days on the union calendar. It is a time to reflect on the victories of the union movement over the years and to continue fighting for the battles we still need to win.
May Day originated as a workers’ holiday in the late 19th century, when trade unions across the world demanded better working conditions, higher wages, and an eight-hour workday. In Australia, the first May Day march was held in Brisbane in 1891, and since then, it has become an important day for workers to come together and celebrate their achievements.
Today, the labour movement has achieved so much, including the introduction of minimum wages, sick leave, annual leave, and other entitlements that we now take for granted. However, there is still much to be done to ensure that all workers are treated fairly and with respect.
Internationally in 2022, the labour movement won new rights to ensure safety and health at work, with the International Labor Organisation (ILO) recognising health and safety as a fundamental right. This will mean governments and employers will have to work with unions to ensure less deaths and injuries from being at work.
In Australia, in late 2022 unions won new laws to improve rights for working women including multi employer bargaining which will assist workers in female-dominated industries, leave for workers facing domestic violence at home and more flexible working conditions for people with caring responsibilities.
In Samoa in early 2023, workers won new laws to regulate minimum wages and hours of work for the first time.
This is just a snapshot of some, recent battles for recognition of work and workers’ rights.
May Day is an opportunity for us to come together and continue fighting for the issues that matter to us, such as fair wages, better working conditions, and safer workplaces. It is also a time to celebrate the solidarity of workers and the power of collective action.
In 2023, there are several events happening around Australia to celebrate May Day. Come to one of these rallies to continue the fight for our rights and for the rights of future generations.
Sydney – May Day March, Monday, 1 May at 11am. Belmore Park.
Newcastle – May Day Parade, Sunday, 30 April at 9.30am. Newcastle Foreshore.
Port Kembla – March Against the Nuclear Base, Saturday, 6 May at 12pm. Wentworth St.
Bendigo – May Day March, Monday, 1 May at 5.15pm. Bendigo Trades Hall.
Adelaide – May Day March & Family Fun Day. Saturday, 29 April at 10.30am. Victoria Square/Tarndanyangga
Fremantle – May Day. Sunday, 30 April at 10.30am. Fremantle Esplanade.
Brisbane – Labour Day Rally and Family Fun Day! Monday, 1 May at 9.30am. Turbot St.
Rest of QLD – May Day events
Darwin – May Day March and Concert. Monday, 1 May at 10am. 38 Woods St.
Hobart – May Day and Street Party. Saturday, 6 May at 11.30am. 157 Collins St.