It originally started as shorthand for ‘a smoking break’.
These days its meaning is a lot broader to the extent it basically covers any short break from work.
Believe it or not, it even appears in Australian legal documents.
…regarded as a Friday shift.
(e) Smoko Break - A paid 15-minute smoko break shall be allowed to all
+ employees covered by this award once each shift, Monday to Friday. T
+he employees shall take the break in a crib room at a time mutually a
+greed upon between the employer and the employees. The procedure for
+Australian Workers' Union employees shall be as contained in an excha
+nge of letters between the parties.
(f) Rostered Day Off - The employer…
Might you be obliged to translate for us? If just to appease the curiosity of those who probably did "stuff up on the term 'Hard Yakka'"? That whole thing sounds like an expression I'd love to confidently spout at a most inopportune moment. =) TaTaForNow.
-PipTigger p.s. Initiate Nail Removal Immediately!
"Hard Yakka" is Aussie slang for describing hard physical labo(u)r. For example, if on the weekend I had to put in a new fence in my backyard, I might say to my colleagues something like "Digging the holes for those fence posts in the %^$ clay soil was bloody hard yakka, I can tell you."
I am not sure of the origins of the expression, but there has been a range of working clothes, made here in Australia for decades, called "Yakka". I don't know what came first, the clothes or the expression. Of course, their advertisements for their work clothes show a whole lot of big, fit, strong men wearing their "Yakka" work clothes, pulling mining equipment, digging holes, or whatever, in the hot Australian sun, while there is a chant of "hard yakka, hard yakka".