Pioneers of the Eight Hours Movement in VictoriaPrint Page Print this page

Eight Hour Day Life Governors
Eight Hour Day Life Governors
Photographs supplied by Kent Watson

A plaque commemorates the pioneers and founders of the Eight Hour movement in Victoria.  

On 21 April 1856, a group of stonemasons – led by James Stephens – walked off the job at Melbourne University. They marched to the Belvedere Hotel in Fitzroy, with other stonemason joining them along the way. They ended the march with a banquet at the hotel to enjoy some well-deserved recreation time, and celebrate their shared goals.  In the months to come, talks with employers led to a peaceful agreement that stonemason would now work 8 hours for the same wage as they previously were paid for ten. 

The historic success of the campaign was celebrated on 12 May 1856 with a grand march from Carlton Gardens to Cremorne Gardens in Richmond, followed by dinner, speeches, games, festivities and fireworks.

Known as the 8 Hours Procession, the march became a major event in Melbourne and was held annually for the next 95 years, becoming a paid public holiday in 1879. However, in 1934, the holiday was renamed ‘Labour Day' and by the end of World War II there was little public interest in the procession.

The pioneers of  Vic. Eight-Hour movement originally numbered 52. Only ten survive, and of these one is in Sydney and the other is ill. Eight therefore were left to head last Monday's procession in Melbourne. Of the original 52, no fewer than 38 were masons, six were bricklayers, five carpenters, one plumber, one plasterer, and one blacksmith. 
Worker (Wagga, NSW), 26 April 1906. 



Address:Victoria & Lygon Streets, Trades Hall, Carlton, 3053
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.806735
Long: 144.966097
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Culture
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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