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The time of their lives: The eight hour day and working life

posted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Julie KimberJulie Kimber, P Love
Labour history; working life; 19th century; 20th century; politics of work; eight hour day; working hours; trade unions; work/life balance.. On 21 April 1856 Melbourne building workers won an industry-wide agreement to establish the Eight Hour Day. In the 150 years since then the slogan ‘Eight Hours Labour, Eight Hours Recreation, Eight Hours Rest’ has symbolised workers’ efforts to take control over the time of their lives and, in doing so, strike an equitable balance between work, rest and play. It was an assertion that they were not simply ‘operatives’ in a labour market, but also family members and citizens in what they hoped could become a civilised community.This book offers historical perspectives on that continuing campaign, to give readers a long-term context for our current debates over the work/life balance and power in the workplace. Contributors to The Time of Their Lives: Margo Beasley, Lyn Beaton, Drew Cottle, Angela Keys and Helen Masterman-Smith, Charles Fahey and John Lack, Patricia Grimshaw, Nell Musgrove and Shurlee Swain, Claire Higgins, Rob Hitchcock, Julie Kimber and Peter Love, Ben Maddison, Val Noone, Bobbie Oliver, Mikael Ottosson and Calle Rosengren, Jeff Rich, Kerry Taylor, and Barbara Webster.


Category 1 - Australian Competitive Grants (this includes ARC, NHMRC)


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Australian Society for the Study of Labour History

Place of Publication

Albert Park, Vic.

Open Access


External Author Affiliations

Australian Society for the Study of Labour History;

Era Eligible