Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Labour Day

Thus ends Labour Weekend – Aucklanders celebrated in the usual sort of way with dismal weather, and by sitting in their cars for hours on clogged motorways.

For those who don't know - the first Labour Day Holiday in New Zealand was celebrated in 1890. It is a celebration of a lazy lout called Samuel Duncan Parnell who, in 1840, was asked to build a shop in Petone.

"I must make this condition, Mr Hunter," he replied, "that on the job the hours shall be only eight for the day." "Ridiculous, preposterous," demurred Hunter. "There are twenty-four hours per day given us," Parnell insisted: "eight of these should be for work, eight for sleep, and the remaining eight for recreation and in which for men to do what little things they want to do for themselves."

Wikipedia credits Australia as being the first in the world to achieve an eight-hour working day in 1900, but this article must have been written by an Australian, as in 1890, New Zealand was already celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the eight-hour working day. I blame their penal-colony gene pool - Australians will try to steal anything that isn't nailed down.

Nonetheless, it seems an antiquated thing for us to be celebrating. I don't know of anyone who still works an eight-hour day.

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