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Sewing room, 1951, type C black and white photograph. Sargood Gardiner Ltd Collection, the University of Melbourne Archives
Under the burning sun of the colony commemorates the 150th anniversary of the achievement of the eight-hour day in Victoria. This victory was the first of its kind both in Australia and internationally, marking a pivotal stage in the development of the labour movement. Drawing from the Trade Union collections in the University of Melbourne Archives, the exhibition acknowledges the multiple histories that underwrite this historical achievement, the force of which highlight the struggle for workers to achieve fair conditions in working life today.
The University of Melbourne was a key site during the eight-hour day movement. On 21 April 1856, stonemasons at the University ceased work and marched through the streets of Melbourne, gathering workers along the way in a demand for eight hours labour, eight hours rest, and eight hours recreation. Their campaign symbolises change in colonial Australia, and signals the beginning of working class representation in government, the establishment of trade unions, and the formation of the Trades Hall Council.