Inspired by the Mondragon Cooperative in Spain, Earthworker was established to facilitate the establishment of worker cooperatives in Victoria. The emphasis is on creating work that is people and planet centred offering meaningful work opportunities and a real say in how things get done.
In 2020 NED Foundation supported Earthworker to develop and deliver a training program for people interested in establishing their own worker cooperative. A key element of this training was the incorporation of the lived experience of one of the facilitators in setting up the RedGum worker Coop.
The project presented some challenges and opportunities for learning and growth with facilitators noting that they would need to pay more attention to the primary focus of participants in future. Many were interested in exploration but only three looked like they would go on to establish a cooperative.
The program is to be reviewed and a series of ‘bootcamps’ are under consideration as a lead up to another 10-week course. Project leaders are keen to see the concept of cooperation being introduced in the high school curriculum as they are adamant that learning to work in cooperation is key to creating a healthy alternative to the toxic workplaces experienced by so many.
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.
Our goal 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 ownership.