May Day cheats

 TODAY is May Day. 

Well, no actually. Here in Queensland – and in Canberra, New South Wales, South and West Australia – it’s Labour Day.

They call it May Day in Northern Territories and Eight Hour Day in Tasmania, which is probably the best name for it, as it celebrates the first day of May 118 years ago when trade unions in the US and Canada decided eight hours was a legal day’s work.

There are, of course, some unenlightened places in the world where it is still called merely Saturday. Serves them right!

The Labour Day idea didn’t reach Australia until the following year – 1887 – when Labour Day was first celebrated by the Melbourne Anarchists Club in Victoria.

But Victoria doesn’t celebrate Labour Day on May 1, like the rest of the world. It celebrates it in March. I suppose that’s because they’re anarchists.

Personally, I think it’s irrelevant whether we’re anarchists or socialists or capitalists. I think we’re all cheats.

Because we’re going to have it again on Monday. This is called having your cake and eating it.

We did it on ANZAC day, too, and I imagine we’ll do it again on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, which happen to fall on Saturday and Sunday this year. And on New Year’s Day, which falls on a Saturday.

No doubt we’ll all feel hard done by and insist on having our holiday on a working day instead. This is great! I love it. Any excuse to get a day off work is fine by me, but it’s still highway robbery.

The bald facts are that Christ wasn’t born on the nearest working day to December 25. He was born on December 25 itself (or so we are expected to believe), and the ANZACs weren’t shot in their thousands on the nearest Monday to April 25. They were shot on April 25. Which happened to be a Sunday.

No one gave them an extra day because it was the weekend.

In fact, in the 12 months from ANZAC day we will have scored an extra week off work through a calendar accident that sees five public holidays fall on the weekend.

Who cares! Not the poor underprivileged, down-trodden working classes, that’s for sure. I mean… in these days of intense stress and constant pressure we need all the time with the barbie and a beer, or down at The Strand, that we can get.

In fact I’d like to point out that our working conditions are positively antediluvian. Do you realise it is 118 years since we battled the our way out from under the oppressive heel of the hand‑made shoes of the capitalist classes, and got our working hours reduced to eight per day.

Surely it’s time we reassessed the situation? We’ve reduced the age of consent from 21 to 18; we’ve given women equal pay… I reckon it’s time we protested in the squares for shorter working hours. Say six a day. Or we could just reduce the working week to four days by turning Monday into weekend, too.

Of course, if that happened we’d have to move Labour Day to May 4, because May 3 would be the weekend…