Labour Day / May Day


 Labour Day in Queensland and May Day in the Northern Territory hold a significant place in union history.

The annual event is both an important reminder not to forget those who fought hard for decent and fair working conditions in Australia, as well as a celebration of their success and a chance to renew our commitment to ensuring a better future for all.

In 2021,  given the current COVID-19 pandemic the number of Labour Day and May Day events being held has been reduced.

IEU-QNT members will be taking part in the following celebrations in 2021. 

Labour Day (QLD)

Monday, May 3 2021 – 9:30am
Members to meet at the IEU-QNT Brisbane Office – 346 Turbot Street, Spring Hill. We will join the march from there with the parade finishing at the Brisbane Showgrounds.

Monday, May 3 2021 – 10am
Family fun day to take place at the North Cairns Tigers Football and Netball Club, 32 Behan St, Manunda.

Saturday, May 1 2021 – 12:30pm
Members to meet at Timothy Moloney Park, Ellenborough Street for the march followed by family fun day in the park.

Saturday, May 1 2021 – 10:00am
Members to meet at the Toowoomba Railway precinct for a flag raising ceremony.

Monday, May 3 2021 – 9:30am
Family fun day will be held at Strand Park.

May Day (NT)

Monday, May 3 2021 – 10:30am
Members to meet for the march at Unions NT 38 Woods Street, followed by festivities at Bicentennial Park from 11:00am. 


To RSVP your attendance to any of the above events, please use the form below:

Why we celebrate

Labour Day/May Day provides us an opportunity to gather each year to acknowledge and celebrate the struggle, collective action and strength shown by our fellow unionists throughout history, which have led to the improved wages and conditions we have today.

It is also a reminder that we must stay vigilant and continue to work as a collective to protect and improve those conditions going into the future.

Where it all began

The foundation of a day to mark the struggle and achievement of workers stems from the May Day Haymarket riots in Chicago on 4 May 1884, which resulted in the death and wounding of some in attendance and the ultimate wrongful conviction and execution of four unionists.

In 1889, a proposal was made to establish a day to recognise the anniversary of the Chicago protests.

As a result, 1 May each year is known as International Workers’ Day.

In Queensland, the antecedent of Labour Day began in Barcaldine in 1891 after the Shearer’s Strike was declared in response to the actions of the Pastoralists’ Federal Council who sought to increase profits by employing non-union shearers on individual contracts for lower rates of pay.

Union workers established strike camps in towns near shearing sheds, with one of the largest camps near Barcaldine.

On 1 May 1891, more than 1,300 striking workers marched through the town as part of the dispute – marking a historic event for Australian workers.

In 1901 the first Monday of each May was declared a public holiday in Queensland and was formally recognised as Labour Day from 1912.

In the Northern Territory, the celebration is known as May Day, and is also marked by a public holiday on the first Monday in May of each year.