Our Mission

Earthworker Cooperative brings together people on common ground for direct action to solve the social and environmental problems faced by local communities and the planet. Earthworker is working to provide local, sustainable, wealth-creating jobs for prosperous local communities, a healthy planet and a safe climate.

Working for ourselves. Working for each other. Working for the earth

Earthworker’s mission is to establish a network of worker-owned cooperatives committed to sustainable enterprise throughout Australia. We believe social and environmental exploitation are intertwined, and that the problems of climate change, job insecurity and growing inequality must be  tackled simultaneously, through greater grassroots economic democracy.

Cooperation before competition: a better way of doing business

Around the world, worker cooperatives are successfully showing how to create sustainable jobs that meet social and environmental needs.  Earthworker’s mission is see Australia catch up. Along with our work to establish the nation’s first worker-owned green manufacturer, we are supporting cooperative startups including the Redgum Cleaning Cooperative and ventures investigating aquaculture and craft brewing.

Leading the way for a just transition

Earthworker’s pilot project is in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley, where the closure of coal power stations will further hurt a community already suffering high unemployment. In Morwell we are supporting the establishment of Australia’s first worker cooperative in clean-tech manufacturing.  By making solar-powered hot water systems and other components, the Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative is a proactive response to manufacturing decline, unemployment and climate change.

Earthworker is committed to:

  • Building solutions to climate change and a just transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy
  • Local manufacturing, local dignified & democratic job creation
  • Providing affordable renewable energy options for households to reduce their energy usage and power bills
  • Practical ‘Treaty’ work, working with First Nations people to support Aboriginal economic empowerment & pathways for First Nations worker-owners in cooperative enterprises
  • Quality education and training
  • A proportion of surplus provided for social justice projects
  • Provision of quality housing, child care, health, education and other social products for the co-operative workforce

Getting it down on paper: Values affirmed in updated Cooperative Rules

In 2017 we re-drafted our Rules (constitution) to better reflect our values and organisational structure. This inlcuded addition of a preamble which you can read below:

1A Preamble

(1) We are committed to the cause of Treaty and just reconciliation in Australia – we recognise that country, located where we have initially established our co-operative, was unjustly taken from the traditional owners, the Kulin Nation of Wathaurong, Wurundjeri, Taungurung, Jaara, Boon Wurrung peoples, and we seek to further the cause of Treaty and justice for First Nations People across this continent;

(a) this Preamble may be changed by special resolution on advice from First Nations People.

(2) Inspired by radical egalitarian union, labour and co-operative, mutualist movements, as well as movements for peace and environmental sustainability, our co-operative was first established to embody the values of self-determination, solidarity and dignified work as well as personal, social and environmental responsibility. We are cooperatives of unionists. We have no interest in becoming employers, and we are committed to ensuring all of us, as workers, collectively own the places in which we work.

(3) We are also inspired by the people of the semi-autonomous community of the Basque Country where Father Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta in 1941 founded the Mondragon Co-operative Complex – and we concur with the Basic Principles of the Mondragon Co-operative Experience (adopted in 1987), summarised as – open admission, democratic organisation, the sovereignty of labour, the instrumental and subordinate nature of capital (capital to serve labour), participatory management, payment solidarity, inter-cooperation (between Co-operatives), social transformation, universality (solidarity with others who work for economic democracy) and education.

(4) We recognise that the contemporary ecological crisis presents a challenge of global magnitude that requires the breaking down of traditional barriers and a broadening of social alliances in order to create a fundamental change in direction. We believe that the old understandings of ‘industrial issues’ and ‘environmental issues’ must be broadened, and understand that addressing environmental, industrial and economic challenges is inseparable from the task of upholding social justice. We seek the replacement of individualistic consumer culture and exploitative relationships with a commitment to ecological integrity, inclusive decision-making, peace, and social cohesion, based on social justice.

(5) The co-operative also holds to these core values:

(a) justice – for all and especially for traditional owners of the land;

(b) solidarity – compassion and responsibility for each other;

(c) care – for others, future generations, other species, and the environment and natural systems in which we exist;

(d) inclusivity – openness and support of diversity;

(e) economic democracy – for a solidarity economy;

(f) honesty and good faith – transparency and integrity;

(g) diligence – wise, considered and democratic decisions for the common good;f(h) self-help – personal and interdependent responsibility.