Eight Hour Day Procession – Melbourne 1939

Australian Workers Film Guide


Silent footage of an Eight Hour Day celebration procession through the streets of Melbourne in 1939. The footage reveals a procession with large numbers of people, horses, banners and some elaborate floats. Many unions are represented in the parade, some of those easily visible are the Waterside Workers’ Federation and the Blacksmiths’ Society of Australasia. Seemingly on the eve of World War Two, there is a strong anti-war sentiment with banners reading ‘War Means Widows’ and ‘Babies Cannot Wear Gas Masks’, as well as a float adorned with a giant peace dove. Other banners call for socialism to solve unemployment and hunger, while others protest against the inadequacy of basic wages and the high cost of living, such as high rents. A banner calls for a 40 hour week.  

The consistency of challenges facing working people is perhaps eerily underscored by similar contemporary issues facing ordinary people today, that of surging inflation, lagging wages and the threat of global war.

Special Notes/Achievements

Footage courtesy of Museum Victoria.

Author: J Bird, 2023

Duration: 8 mins 54 secs

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