KeywordsTrade union peak bodies
On 3 December 1858 a small group of tradesmen, many of whom were involved in the eight-hours day boon achieved three years earlier, formed the first Committee of the National Trades Hall and Literary Institute and the first trades hall was erected in Melbourne in 1859 (records from this period are at the State Library of NSW) . By 1870 the Committee had decided to replace its original building with one suitable as a 'parliament' of the working-class. The present building was built between 1873 and 1925. From the outset the Trades Hall was to provide a place for the social and educational activities of workers as well as their industrial ones. The philosophy of the early Trades Hall Committee was that education was essential to social progress for workers, hence the Library was given a prominent place in the new building. The Trades Hall Council itself has always been central to the industrial and political aspirations of the labour movement in Victoria. From small, proud but parochial beginnings it has developed to spearhead campaigns on hours of work, wages, long service leave, equal pay and other industrial matters. On the social front it has interests in welfare, youth, conservation and Aboriginal affairs.