May Day becomes fight for Parramatta heritage

THE May Day March came to Parramatta with force when an estimated 5000 unionists and supporters marched from Prince Alfred Park to the hoarded-up Willow Grove to highlight the plight of the threatened heritage villa in Phillip St.

The traditional march for workers’ rights has been held in Sydney – from Hyde Park to the Domain – since its inception about 100 years ago.

But this year Unions NSW decided Parramatta needed the march in light of the NSW Government’s intention to “move” Willow Grove to make way for the Powerhouse Museum.

The construction union, the CFMEU NSW, has declared a green ban on any demolition of Willow Grove, throwing its full support behind the community campaign to retain the building.

Bringing the May Day March to Parramatta was part of that campaign, CFMEU secretary Darren Greenfield said.

It was a peaceful march, though the riot police were there to make sure.

The marchers gathered at the Willow Grove site, though it was hidden behind a hoarding, which the government had curiously painted in chalkboard black.

The usual Bill Posters Will Be Prosecuted inscription did not deter people from chalking up their messages of hatred for the government decision to effectively demolish Willow Grove.

Considered the heroine of the Willow Grove fight for bringing the CFMEU into the battle, Suzette Meade, president of North Parramatta Residents Action Group, said the turnout for the march was heartening.

“On May 1 history was made with the May Day march moving to Parramatta to support the Willow Grove green ban. With 5000 union members standing behind our community we know we will win this battle to save Parramatta’s heritage,” Ms Meade said.

Photo: Marchers at this year’s event.

By DI BARTOK

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