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Labour Day, a time to celebrate

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, October 21st, 2009 - 16 comments
Categories: Unions, workers' rights - Tags:

labour dayNext Monday, you have a paid day off. Do you know why? Because workers organised themselves into unions and fought for better pay and conditions, starting with an 8-hour day. Labour Day is both a product of those achievements and a chance to celebrate them.

The TEU has set up a Labour Day website to remind us of the many rights we owe to all the workers down the years who have had the sense and the strength to contribute to unions. The site has tells the story of how the 8-hour day and Labour Day were won, the unions’ wins in recent years, and the issues facing workers at the moment. There’s even a cheeky competition to win a book on the legacy of Samuel Parnell by saying what extra public holiday you would like to have.

Anyway, it’s such a good yarn, I’ve copied the story of Samuel Parnell and the fight for the 8-hour week below. As you read, remember it was only low unemployment and workers cooperating in their collective action that made victory possible:

In 1839, before the Treaty of Waitangi, Samuel Parnell organised to introduce the eight-hour working day making New Zealand the first country in the world to achieve such conditions. His first job in New Zealand was when a shipping merchant, George Hunter, asked him to erect a store for him.

‘I will do my best,’ replied Parnell, ‘but I must make this condition, Mr. Hunter, that on the job the hours shall only be eight for the day.’

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16 comments on “Labour Day, a time to celebrate ”

  1. Thanks for publicising this site! We’ve got ten books to give away to people who visit the site and enter the competition. Also if anyone has material or info they want to contribute to the site let me know – I’m keen to have other union members and working people involved in our Labour Day promotions.

  2. And under National you can enjoy your paid day off, knowing you have more money in your pocket because of them.

    • snoozer 2.1

      who does, brett?

      Not anyone earning less than $44K who gets Working For Families. Or anyone at all on less than $20 odd K.

      Not anyone who has lost their job while this governmetn has twiddled their thumbs

      Not any of the people who have had their wages frozen while the cost of living keeps rising.

      Oh, you’re talking about the rich, eh Brett?

    • Brett are you on wingnut trolling duty today?

  3. Pity the Unions of today don’t have the same admirable qualities of those who really fought for workers rights back then. Now it’s all about following Labour and stuffing the workers.

    • felix 3.1

      Yes Clint. You and ACT and the BRT are big on workers rights, more so than anyone else, and you’d all support the unions if they were too.

      Give it a rest you boring drunk.

  4. Felix? What’s with the drunk talk? What climbed up your butt this morning?

    Care to share?

  5. Oh and Felix buddy, I was quite active as a young Labour fella back in the day. Unions these days are not as trailblazing as they used to be. Many even like to intimidate others…. I see my good friend Shawn Tan was attacked by a Unite Union employee over the past weekend. What gives?

    • felix 5.1

      So you’re just a hack for whoever you’re drinking with at the time, eh? No surprises there. Never noticed you having much interest in policies or issues, it’s just “ra ra my team”. Just a sportsfan really, aren’t you Clint?

  6. Ron 6

    Young Labour, Clint? Really? Would had to have been when you were at primary school, wouldn’t it?
    BTW – looks like Shawn took a leaf out of Mr Hide’s book when it comes to corruption.

  7. Hey Ron, err a little after that buddy! What put me off was the quite openly endorsed violence and threatening behaviour from my “comrades”. I questioned it just once and ended up on the other end of it….so I moved the hell away from it 🙂

  8. Ohh…wow, you sure showed me didn’t you!? Well except for the fact checking 🙂

    • felix 8.1

      You really think those smiles help, don’t you? 🙂

      You’re such a gimp 🙂

      Don’t you have some porn to play with or something 🙂

  9. Oh diddums Felix. Nothing to say but purile insults.

    You sure told me didn’t you? Har har har.

    🙂

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