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  • On the 28th of November 1919 in Washington, the first international labor standard of the ILO was adopted.

  • The Hours of Work (Industry) Convention 001 limited working time to 8 hours a day and 48 hours a week.

  • An average work week for a full-time manufacturing employee in the United States in 1890 was 100 hours.

  • The origins of the movement for an 8-hour day began with the Industrial Revolution in Britain.

  • In 1817, British textile manufacturer Robert Owen raised the demand and coined the phrase: 8 hours labor, 8 hours recreation, 8 hours rest.

  • The first piece of British legislation governing work hours was the Factory Act of 1833, limiting the workday for children in factories.

  • In the United States, the Labor Reform Association founded in 1864 and the Grande 8-Hour League of Massachusetts formed a year later became the centers of the American movement.

  • Meanwhile, in Australia, trade unionist James Stephens led stonemasons in Melbourne to agitate for an 8-hour working day, which they eventually won.

  • With the growing integration of the world economy and the development of the global trade union movement, the call for an 8-hour working day became global.

  • By the start of the 20th century, the 8-hour workday was becoming a reality for more and more people, and at the end of the First World War, 8-hour laws of varying scope had been enacted across Europe.

  • In the meantime, the social situation was explosive, and labor unrest widespread.

  • "Unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperiled."

  • To face this challenge, the International Labor Organization was created in 1919 as part of the Treaty of Versailles.

  • The peace treaty included the declaration that "the adoption of an 8-hours day or a 48-hours week as the standard to be aimed at" was of "special and urgent importance".

  • This urgent call was soon met at the first session of the International Labor Conference in Washington in 1919, with the adoption of convention 001.

  • A landmark for workers' rights, the convention has had far-reaching impact on normalizing the 8-hour workday, and has been an enduring pillar of modern working life.

On the 28th of November 1919 in Washington, the first international labor standard of the ILO was adopted.

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B1 US labor hour convention unrest working movement

How the 8-hour working day became a global labour standard in 1919

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    Elise Chuang posted on 2022/06/03
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