Eight Hour Movement Monument
Public Art : Eight Hour Movement Monument
Designer : © Percival Ball
Description: The Eight Hour Monument erected in honour of the
eight hour working day. The monument includes a granite column topped with the figures 888 and a globe encircled
with the words "Rest Labour and Recreation".
Date Unveiled: The Eight Hour Monument was unveiled 21st April,
Funded: By public subscription
Location : The monument was originally located in Gordon Reserve
but can now be found on the corner of Russell & Victoria Streets in Melbourne, Australia.
What Was The Eight Hour Movement? It all started in Melbourne in
1856 when working conditions were pretty harsh. Around this time there were a large number of public buildings
being erected in Melbourne which meant there was a great demand for skilled workers. The workers felt they were
being unfairly treated and saw it as a perfect time to negotiate better wages and conditions. On April the 21st the
stonemasons, working on the Old Quadrangle Building (now Melbourne University), downed their tools and marched on
Parliament House , which was also being constructed, to demand an 8 hour working day or as the movement defined 8
hours labour, 8 hours rest, 8 hours recreaction. The well executed march won them the 8 hour working day and
thus making the Melbourne tradies one of the first group of workers in the world to be given these
While their demands were met, not all workers were given the 8 hour working day. It did however set a standard
for trade unions to negotiate better conditions.
Following the April victory the movement had an annual celebration and procession which eventually lead to a
public holiday in 1879 called Labour Day.The holiday was later changed to March, due to ANZAC Day parade
following World War I.
In the late 1880s a committee was formed to help raise money for a monument. A site was allocated at Capentaria
Reserve (now Gordon Reserve) in 1890 adjacent to the Parliament Buildings, where the stone masons first protested.
Unfortunately the 1890's was also a time of economic woe so the project was shelved for a later date. The orginal
monument, designed by Percival Ball, was to depict allegorical life size figures but by the time the project was
reignited in the early 1900s the design was scaled down. Ball's final design included a granite column topped with
the figures 888 and a globe encircled with the words Rest Labour and Recreation.
The unveiling of the monument was on the 21st of April, 1903 with all the surviving pioneers of 1856 in
attendance . The tradesmen of Ballarat erected and dedicated the monument to Thomas Galloway, the founder of
the 8 hour system in Victoria.
In early 1923 the monument was relocated by the council to the corner of Russell and Victoria Streets opposite
the Trades Hall and was unveiled once again on the 21st of January 1923.