Standing at Solidarity Park

In 1997, in response to anti-union legislation, 30,000 unionists marched on WA Parliament, and were ignored. On May Day, directly across the road from Parliament aka ‘Bullshit Castle’, a site was pegged and legally claimed by unionists using the Mining Act. A 24 hour a day, six-month long occupation protest took place. A caravan (the ‘Workers Embassy’) came to be surrounded by tents, installations, vegetable gardens, a campfire, pergolas, a sandpit, barbecues, a fountain, paving stones, a rotation of artistic performances, a memorial and a live-in organiser. The occupation was coupled with many other protest tactics. ‘The Parliament calls them thugs, [but] they can create! … To many of them I say, ‘Can I just shake your hand to get some courage from you?’—rank and file participant The anti-union laws were eventually repealed and the site's structures made permanent. Remarkably, Solidarity Park is now Heritage Protected. The site is not just historic though, it’s alive. We ought to keep it overflowing with our movements. ‘The hard tied knot will never be undone’ - Janis Bailey

Sam Wallman

Sam Wallman is a unionist and cartoonist based on unceded Wurundjeri country. He is a member of the Workers Art Collective. His new longform book,  Our Members Be Unlimited: a Comic About Unions is out now through Scribe Publications. You can follow his work here.

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