Our Mission – ** old page **

Earthworker believes that 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 ownership. Earthworker aims to establish a network of worker-owned cooperatives committed to sustainable enterprise throughout Australia. 

Around the world, worker cooperatives are successfully showing how to create sustainable jobs that meet social and environmental needs. Earthworker’s mission is to see Australia catch up.

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.

Our Aims

Earthworker Cooperative is a grassroots response to economic inequality and climate change – building resilient and sustainable communities, one worker cooperative at a time.

Earthworker aims to support a thriving cooperative economy and social sector across Australia and beyond. Advancing worker-owned enterprises to build a stakeholder democracy. Creating common ground for sustainable solutions to social and environmental problems. Working for dignified jobs, local community empowerment and a healthy environment.

Earthworker Cooperative brings together people from diverse backgrounds in practical action to solve the social and environmental problems faced by communities and the planet. We provide common ground where trade unionists, environmentalists, small business people and others work together in common cause

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.
  • Unionised workplaces and working with union members to promote workplace democracy and collectivised markets 
  • 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. 


Our Guiding Principles

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.

The co-operative also holds to these core values:
Justice – for all and especially for traditional owners of the land.
Solidarity – compassion and responsibility for each other.
Care – for others, future generations, other species, and the environment and natural systems in which we exist.
Inclusivity – openness and support of diversity.
Economic democracy – for a solidarity economy.
Honesty and good faith – transparency and integrity.
Diligence – wise, considered and democratic decisions for the common good.
Self-help – personal and interdependent responsibility.

Our Story

in The Earthworker project can trace its roots back to the radical labour and environment movements of the 1970s. Dave Kerin, co-founder of the project, was active in the Green Bans, where members of the Builders Labourers Federation downed tools and engaged in sustained struggle to protect sites of environmental and social value from inappropriate development.

In that spirit, Earthworker has always aimed to demonstrate that workers have the right to collectively decide how we use our labour. And when we learn how to exercise that right, we tend to make decisions that benefit the people and places around us.

The project was conceived as a green-left coalition between unionists and environmentalists. Conflict can occur between environmentalists who want to shut down certain industries, and unionists who want to protect jobs. Earthworker contended that because there are “no jobs on a dead planet”, we should work together for a ‘just transition’ and create jobs that aren’t just better for the earth, but for workers too.

Rather than simply talk about it, Earthworker decided to start taking practical steps in this direction. And so, the idea of founding worker-cooperatives was born. True to our roots, partnering with unions is a crucial part of our strategy for promoting workplace democracy and collective markets. By using our collective power to both produce and purchase our own goods and services, unionised workers can establish autonomy from large corporations.

Taking our lead from well-established international cooperative federations like Mondragon and Evergreen, our organisers set about the mammoth task of founding the first of many, the Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative which currently manufactures quality solar hot water technology in Morwell. Read more about our growing cooperative network here.