Labour Day / May Day


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

Celebrated on the first Monday in May, this 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.

RSVP for your local Labour Day / May Day event below.

RSVP for your local event

IEU-QNT T-Shirts

Our union has a limited supply of IEU shirts for members and their families to wear at Labour Day/May Day events. This is the same design as last year so if you already have a T-Shirt, please wear that one on the day.

If you’d like to secure an IEU-QNT Union Strong T-Shirt, please let us know via email ahead of the event. IEU-QNT event organisers will also have a small supply of shirts available on the day.

Event details

Alice Springs
Monday, 2 May | 10:30am
Meet at Gap Road, Todd Street ahead of the Bangtail Muster Parade commencing at 10:30am. Click here for further information.

Monday, 2 May | 9:30am
Meet at the IEU-QNT Office (346 Turbot Street) to join the march. March will conclude with a family fun day at the Brisbane Showgrounds where free drinks and BBQ will be provided to union members and their families.

Saturday, 30 April | 10:00am
Meet at Riverside Parklands, Quay St. March commences at 10:30am, concluding with a family fun day at Anzac Park from 11:00am. Free drinks and BBQ will be provided to union members and their families.

Cairns *just announced*
Monday, 2 May | 11:00am
Parade starts at 11:00am, North Cairns Football Club (Behan St), concluding with a family fun day at the club. Food, drinks and rides will be available for union members and their families.

Monday, 2 May | 10:00am
Meet at 38 Woods Street, with march to commence at 10:30am. March will conclude at Bicentennial Park with a family friendly event, including float competition and live music. The event concludes at 3:00pm.

Saturday, 30 April | 12:30pm
Meet at Timothy Moloney Park, Ellensborough St. March commences at 1:00pm, concluding with a family fun day at the park from 1:30pm. Free drinks and BBQ will be provided to union members and their families.

Monday, 2 May | 9:00am
Meet at the corner of River and Gregory Streets. March commences at 9:45am, concluding with a family fun day at Queens Park from 10:00am for union members and their families.

Sunday, 1 May | 10:00am
Meet at Waterside Workers Hall, Wharf St. March commences at 10:30am, concluding with refreshments at the Maryborough Memorial Bowls Club from 11:00am.

Sunshine Coast
Sunday, 1 May | 10:00am
Festivities at the Caloundra Sharks Rugby League Football Club (Gregory Street) will include food, drinks, live music and children’s activities.

Saturday, 30 April | 10:15am
Meet at Railway Station Carpark, Russell St. March commences at 11:00am, concluding with food and drinks at the Irish Club (Russell Street) for union members and their families.

Monday, 2 May | 9:00am
Meet at Strand Park, The Esplanade. March commences at 9:45am, concluding with food and drinks at the park for union members and their families from 10:30am.

Other regional Labour Day / May Day events
Labour Day / May Day events may be scheduled in other areas by local Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) or Unions NT bodies. IEU-QNT delegations won’t be specifically attending those events but members are more than welcome to attend and march alongside QCU or Unions NT members.

 Don’t forget to let us know if you’d like an IEU-QNT T-Shirt posted to you to wear on the day.

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.