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New board, new name, new energy: Former power workers join cooperative factory in Morwell

On the 22nd of September, organisers of our worker-owned solar hot water manufacturing cooperative in the Latrobe Valley met to elect a new board of directors and to discuss strategy for the project. The AGM at the factory in Morwell marked an important step in Earthworker’s aim of establishing a community-owned enterprise that will create dignified and sustainable jobs as the area’s coal industry winds down.

“It was exciting to see the structure of the entity taking shape, with highly skilled and enthusiastic new board members stepping up, including many with a long involvement in both the local power industry and community environmental projects in the Valley” reflected Earthworker organiser Anna Boddenberg, “It’s great seeing the project being taken up by people with such capacity to run with it, as we move into this challenging and exciting period of recruiting worker-owners and beginning production.”

The AGM also saw a change of name for the local cooperative, with the seven board members voting to change the name from Eureka’s Future Workers Cooperative to Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative (or ‘Earthworker Energy’ for short).

The board of Earthworker Energy in Morwell welcomed new members Chris Barfoot, Katherine Cunningham, Rod Horton and David Sandall. You can read a short bio of each new member below. 

New Board Members: 

Katherine Cunningham – Based in Gippsland, Katherine has a degree in business and entrepreneurship, and extensive experience in adult education including business training, bringing an invaluable skillset for cooperative development and worker-owner education.

Rod Horton – Rod has many years of experience in the renewable energy & energy efficiency sector, & has managed hundreds of commercial & residential solar PV & solar hot water installations (incl. BOLT-ON heat pumps) as managing director of NRGwise.

Chris Barfoot – Chris is a highly experienced researcher, engineer and industrial chemist with 30 years experience in the power industry. An ex-Hazelwood Power Station worker, Chris is also a board member of the Gippsland Climate Change Network.

David Sandall – David is a Morwell-born-and-bred sheetmetal worker, and is an worker-representative on the board as the new factory coordinator. Dave also has extensive experience as a union organiser, and in community services.

We are all excited to welcome the new board members and look forward to updating you on the next steps for the project!