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Labour day

Written By: - Date published: 8:54 am, October 26th, 2020 - 41 comments
Categories: greens, labour, uncategorized, Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

We’ve written a bit about Labour Day over the years – see the archives for the origins, history, and importance of the day. Enjoying your weekend? Thank a unionist!

This Labour day is an especially joyous one.  To all Labour and Green MPs have a great chilled out day.  You have a big three years ahead of you and will need all the rest you can get!

41 comments on “Labour day ”

  1. Pierre 1

    It's she who stands up,
    she who suffers, who goes on strike,
    who we put in prison,
    who we betray and abandon,
    it's she who gives us the will to live,
    and the will to follow her.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rPs9fBXbGs

    Vive la CGT!
    Happy labour day, comrades!

    • PsyclingLeft.Always 1.1

      As an always Lefty…Aye Comrade ! (hope you OK in UK ? )

      • Pierre 1.1.1

        As things are in the UK the Tories are pushing through a bill giving secret police immunity from prosecution if they commit crimes while undercover. The main victims of police spying have been environmental groups and trade unions, and Starmer's Labour is not putting up any opposition. The government also seems intent on taking away free school meals for children, which is just… outright disdain for poor families.

        Under normal circumstances there would be protests going on right now. The last round of trade union protests last weekend were called off at the last minute for public health concerns. There was just a brief spontaneous outburst in Manchester after the government decided to pick a fight with the Manchester City Council. The main force out in the streets this weekend were the libertarian Covid-truther crowd, and it's worrying.

        Otherwise I'm as well as can be expected, though quite tired now though so going to head to sleep soon. What are you up to for labour day?

        • PsyclingLeft.Always 1.1.1.1

          "The main victims of police spying have been environmental groups and trade unions"

          Aint that just so typical….

          "The main force out in the streets this weekend were the libertarian Covid-truther crowd, and it's worrying."

          Absolutely ! NWO, Agenda 21 ( I had to look that up when I first heard) the full CT nuts…got them here too : (

          Today gonna go walk with my Son…. A Worker too. Take care matey…

  2. mac1 2

    Our museum celebrated Labour Day last Monday with a small concert. I was lucky to give a short talk on Parnell's achievement and the ensuing Labour Day enactment.

    It got a good laugh when I read that the shipping owners were keen to see Labour Day celebrated on one day nationally as the canny seamen on coastal shipping got several holidays as they went from port to port in New Zealand!

    I also sang several songs to celebrate unions and working folk, songs about their lives and conditions and about the poverty that decent wages and conditions were to alleviate.

    Hard Times, Which Side Are You On, Davy Lowston, Rye Buck Shearer, Mingulay Boat Song, Turning Steel aka the Factory Lad, Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Men of Worth, Leatherman, The Banks are Made of Marble, Solidarity Forever, I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister.

    Great songs. There is a huge social history in our songs and poems like Denis Glover's The Magpies.

    And great humour, as in The Sick Note. Google and enjoy today.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    Labour Day history should inspire the people of 2020 as they drive an Uber, battle WINZ stand downs, or plead for more hours in a precarious crappy job.

    Push now for Fair Pay Agreements which will raise the wage floor for all, recruit more class left people for unions at every level so we can restore an NZCTU that delivers working class leadership not Labour Party tailism.

    Happy Labour Day. Solidarity to all.

  4. RedLogix 4

    An interesting bit of history that surprised us when we first saw it:

    The working men of Ballarat erected this monument to commemorate James Galloway, a Scottish stonemason,and the founder of the 8 hour system in Victoria. Traditionally Melbourne claims Australian parentage of the Eight-Hour Day. Following agitation by Melbourne stonemasons in 1856 the eight-hour day was introduced in that city for workers employed on public works without loss of pay.

    This dates back to 1855, and indicates just how deep the cultural roots of organised labour are in Australia. And given that events at Eureka Stockade just a year earlier are widely recognised as the genesis of Parliamentary democracy in Australia, it's evident this relatively modest regional city in Victoria had quite a bit going on back in the day.

    And it's interesting to speculate just how much some of this progressive instinct made it's way via gold prospectors across the Tasman, setting in motion the great reforms in this country during the latter half of that century.

    And for a final odd quirk of history, most kiwis will know of an apple variety called the Ballarat, which a friend in the industry tells me did arrive in NZ in that era. Oddly enough it's now very rare and barely known in Australia.

    • tc 4.1

      Eureka museum in Ballarat is well worth a visit, it's on the actual site. Forget the cold man made of canberra it all starts right there.

      Superb section on great orators and the techniques they used to enforce messages such as MLK, Kennedy, Keating, Churchill

    • Muttonbird 4.2

      This would be about the same time the same people were exterminating Aboriginal Australians in huge numbers because they were viewed as sub-human.

      A lot of white Australians still think this way.

      • JanM 4.2.1

        They would hunt them like foxes and bring back hands rather than tails – ugh!

      • greywarshark 4.2.2

        It is said that the people labelled as 'white trash' in the USA feel themselves elevated by disdaining the black people there. I guess they feel the same in Australia. I've long been intrigued by the story about the crossing of the Australian desert by a woman, Robyn Davidson, her dog, and four camels back then. One of the first things in this article is about degrading an aborigine.

        https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-09/tracks-robyn-davidson-remembers-epic-desert-trek-40-years-on/9239780 – Tracks author Robyn Davidson reflects on a changing Australia, 40 years after her desert trek

        The first night she arrived in Alice Springs in 1975, an Aboriginal man was found in a gutter painted white. The Ku Klux Klan was making its presence felt, and — against the backdrop of the battle for land rights — the town was seething with racial tensions and resentments that were never far from the surface.

        Davidson got a job as a barmaid at the local pub, where she was labelled the town's "next rape case".
        "It was pretty tough, and pretty rough, and pretty much a kind of masculine ethos — you know, that harsh Australian masculinity," she tells Life Matters…

        But she concedes doing the same trip she did in 1977 in the same way would be impossible today.
        She says she got in just in time, before our culture became one of "constant observation".

        Back then there were no mobile or satellite phones and "to come across a two-way radio every three months was how you got messages out of there".
        "There was a tremendous freedom in that," Davidson says.

        "There was something about having to expand myself in all sorts of directions that made me realise that there were all sorts of abilities and talents there that I had no idea I had.

  5. KJT 5

    Celebrating the 8 hour day, 40 hour week is an anachronism.

    Both have largely disappeared, except for the odd proffesion, such as Lawyers, who still have a strong union.

    • Muttonbird 5.1

      Yep. I am working right now and will be into the night.

    • mickysavage 5.2

      Lawyers union is by far the strongest union in the country.

    • Pierre 5.3

      The 35-hour work week is part of French labour law, brought in under the Socialist/Communist/Green coalition in 2002.

      It led to a golden period of low unemployment and the French economy still has exceptionally high productivity because of it. Macron's neoliberal reforms have watered it down a lot lately but most public sector employees are still employed on 35-hour contracts.

      The historical precedent was the working week had already been limited to 40 hours by the Matignon Accords under the Popular Front government in 1936. An anachronism indeed.

  6. Stuart Munro 6

    Early in 1889, the Otago Daily Times began a campaign which included a series of exposes of the sweated system, and public meetings calling for change. Newspapers throughout the country carried stories on the issue. In 1890, the Government set up a royal commission and appointed Mr Waddell as one of its members.The immediate response to its recommendations was the 1891 Factories Act, which introduced an inspection system to monitor work conditions. But Mr Waddell's impact was much more far-reaching…

    "He galvanised opinion among all those who agreed the one thing they did not want in New Zealand was the extremes of wealth and poverty that existed in their home countries," Prof Olssen says.

    I wonder what Mr Waddell would have made of the slave ships, the RSEs, the brokers and all the other elements of the system that has given NZ the fastest growing inequality in the OECD. Reckon he'd have a thing or two to say about it – and it wouldn’t be a ringing endorsement of neoliberalism.

    • greywarshark 6.1

      Well, have we become a cowed country?

      • Stuart Munro 6.1.1

        I think yes.

        The organisation of resistance to political excess traditionally lies with the parties that espouse particular views. So the Greens are placed to organise opposition to, say, Coromandel mining, the Gnats to oppose tax increases, and Labour to oppose erosions of workers' rights or interests.

        When Douglas shoved through his insane and unmandated 'reforms', the better to steal public property, he simultaneously destroyed the organisational structure that would ordinarily have opposed him, the Labour party. He made it unelectable.

        Thus his thefts were able to endure, in spite of having practically no public support.

        Betrayals on such a scale historically attract exemplary punishment.

        Certainly workers have had nothing to celebrate in a generation.

        • greywarshark 6.1.1.1

          It maybe that we have become comfortably middle-class and there we will stay with our trinkets.

          • Stuart Munro 6.1.1.1.1

            There's a consistent theme in descriptions of the postwar governments that created decent societies throughout the global west, that they were afraid of the consequences of not doing so – that they might be deposed and tried.

            They have lost that fear, and with a few exceptions, have dared to do a spectacularly lousy job. The wheel turns, and the lessons our grandparents' generation learned through the Depression, must be learned again.

            Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

  7. I worry about Labour day. It was instituted to celebrate the 40 hour week. We lost that in the 80s I think, with the Employment Contracts Act. It is still a holiday I guess, but it is as meaningless as Christmas and Easter. All very well intended, with history, but no substance in 2020.

    • greywarshark 7.1

      Don't you believe it. Only in your heart are things lost like Christmas and Easter – and even Labour Day. They stay in people's hearts; talismans to hold onto. I worry about you Nic 181, hold onto your dreams if you still have some.

      • solkta 7.1.1

        Less than half the population identify as Christian. Mostly meaningless for most people.

        • greywarshark 7.1.1.1

          It is said that people in a hole suddenly start praying. It might be time for a Christian renaissance.

  8. Brian 8

    The People's' flag is deepest Red…

    Happy Labour Day all !

  9. Ad 9

    Weird that this Labour government didn't do any media release on it.

    I mean its the workers who won Labour this election.

    And while we are at it, where's the actual proposal for a further pubic holiday that Jacinda warbled about weeks ago campaigning for our worker votes?

    Seems kinda quick to forget this promise, even from a full time campaigning politician.

    • mac1 9.1

      Ad, your paragraph three- an interesting take on holidays…….

      As for the substance of your complaint, maybe just nine days after an election, in the midst of negotiations to form a new government, with a Covid pandemic occupying centre aisle, and a third Bledislow test to be played 😉 , it's a tad early for promise forgetting, remembering or enacting.

    • mac1 10.1

      greywarshark and other song contributors, thanks for the citings.

      I had never heard the Working Man song before. I preferred the Dubliners version as its instrumentation from uilleann pipes to didgeridoo gave it some universality. The singer had a little more passion.

      A side thought about cultural appropriation versus universality occurred when I heard the didgeridoo-that I have much to understand on this issue.

      • greywarshark 10.1.1

        Yes universality – I wonder about the story behind its appearance and who playing. It was good to remember Labour Day, and that we had it, and still may need and probably can, arouse those sentiments again.

  10. RedLogix 11

    An interesting Australian advocacy for a UBI.

    A basic income for all adults of $18,500 a year, tapering off as work-related earnings increase, would lift tens of thousands out of poverty and dramatically reduce inequality in Australia.

    As employment and earnings are hit by COVID-19 disruptions, three academic experts have evaluated the costs of a payment that would go to most people of working age regardless of their employment status.

    It's the relatively high level they propose setting it to is what grabbed my attention.

    • Craig H 11.1

      A basic income which tapers off as work-related earnings increase is essentially what the Greens proposed in their Guaranteed Minimum Income policy.

  11. AUSTRINGER 12

    As the man said meeting the new arrivals at the Petone wharf, 24 hours in a day,8 for working, 8 for leisure and 8 for rest.Wonder what he would say today, get on this Union list and stand up.

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