Earthworker envisions a world in which people everywhere are able to democratically determine the means of their existence, collectively meeting their needs while recognising our interconnection with each other, other species, and the environment in which we exist.
Earthworker strives to create democratic, just and sustainable economies that enable us to deal with the challenges of economic injustice and ecological crisis. We are actively committed to creating dignified, safe and sustainable livelihoods in a network of unionised worker-owned cooperatives – supporting and enabling social ownership of the Australian economy.
Our network of cooperatives currently works across manufacturing, energy efficiency, community support, construction and electricity retailing. Find out more about our cooperatives and their products & services here.
Earthworker Cooperative holds to the core values of justice, solidarity, care, inclusivity, economic democracy, self-help, diligence, honesty and good faith. We hold that our treatment of each other is as important as the outcomes we seek.
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, and Boon Wurrung peoples, and Gunaikurnai people, and we seek to take practical steps to further the cause of Treaty and justice for First Nations People across this continent.
What are Cooperatives?
Cooperatives are people-centred enterprises owned, controlled and run by and for their members to realise their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations.
Cooperatives bring people together in a democratic and equal way. Whether the members are the customers, employees, users or residents, cooperatives are democratically managed by the ‘one member, one vote’ rule. Members share equal voting rights regardless of the amount of capital they put into the enterprise.
The cooperative movement is far from being a marginal phenomenon, at least 12% of humanity is a cooperator of any of the 3 million cooperatives on earth.
We recognise the principles of the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA). They are guidelines by which we put our values into practice.
1. Voluntary and Open Membership
2. Democratic Member Control
3. Members’ Economic Participation
4. Autonomy and Independence
5. Education, Training and Information
6. Cooperation among Cooperatives
7. Concern for Community
The Earthworker project can trace its roots back to the radical labour and environment movements of the 1970s. Founders of Earthworker were active in the Green Bans, where members of the Builders Labourers Federation downed tools and engaged in a 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 left-green 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: Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative (EEMC).
Today we’re proud to see a growing network of diverse, grassroots, worker-led cooperative social enterprises in our network – find out about them here.