2020 has been a difficult year for all of us, to say the least. Although this year threw us a lot of curveballs, we are proud of what we have been able to achieve and we couldn't have done it without your support. Our members, organisers and worker-owners mobilised to support their communities throughout the pandemic and resulting recession. With the year coming to a close, we are reflecting on the past 12 months as a period of growth and resilience building.
So what’s happening in each of the Co-ops?
Here’s an update, as well as information on how you can support or get involved in each one.
Hope Cooperative now rents a space (at much reduced rate) from the West Melbourne Baptist Community, and we have been able to provide paid employment for a number of our members. In the latter stages of lockdown 2 in Melbourne, an outbreak of Covid amongst the Afghan community in the southeast of Melbourne led to Hope Cooperative offering our assistance to the Health Department to provide outreach and translation services to assist with public health messaging. We were particularly keen to stop what looked likely to be an outbreak of racist scapegoating of the community because of the outbreak. We were very pleased to play a part in getting the outbreak under control, through street-based outreach and translation of material not previously available in Dari and Hazaragi.
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Earthworker Energy Manufacturing Cooperative (EEMC)
After a challenging start to the year, the last few months for Earthworker Energy have been our busiest ever.
With more and more of our quality products installed across the country, positive feedback is spreading via word-of-mouth and we're seeing more and more interest in our 'Made in Morwell' products. This is especially the case for our high-performing Earthworker-Reclaim Heat Pump systems, for which we also have a spiffy new brochure designed by Stella Coffey (please share it around). This system will be a key feature of the upcoming 2nd 'Gippy Bulk Buy' of solar PV and hot water across Gippsland.
In an exciting product development, we've also starting incorporating recycled plastic in our uniquely-designed tank casing in partnership with local business Kiel Industries - helping reduce plastic waste, and giving our tanks a beautiful speckled finish.
Over the next few months we'll be aiming to keep up with our new backlog of orders, and completing some production line upgrades required to start recruiting new worker-members.
Get in touch if you or your friends have any hot water questions!
Find more information on the EEMC website
Redgum Cleaning Cooperative
Here at Redgum Cleaning Cooperative we feel like we’re finally getting back on track after most of 2020 spent in lockdown. Last week we were thrilled to welcome two new trainees, Robin and Satya and we’re also sadly saying goodbye to two members, Allison and Freyja.
As of this week we’re able to get back to domestic cleaning! About time! While cleaning has been in high demand during the pandemic and has been an essential service, understandably domestic cleaning was prohibited during Stage 4 lockdown. We spent most of our lockdown cleaning at the Australian Services Union office and working on back end admin tasks like OHS procedures and policy work. We’ve also been designating new rotational roles to members to share out our workload as much as we can. While we got a lot done over lockdown we’re so excited to get back to domestic cleaning after a long hiatus.
If you are interested in engaging Redgum’s services, please get in touch!
Cooperative Power's COVID-19 solidarity credit program, where 100% of the cooperative's electricity revenue goes to fighting the economic impacts of COVID-19 has just completed its second of four quarters. The program has raised a further $1,475. This is on top of the $1,387.50 raised in the first quarter. This means customer members have helped raise a total of $2,862.50. 50% of these solidarity credits go to Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA to spend on its energy democracy program in Vietnam, the Philippines and Nepal which helps to build a renewable recovery from COVID-19. The other 50% goes to credits on the electricity bill of customer members who've suffered income disruptions because of COVID-19. Earthworker members are eligible to switch today and engage in radical mutual support. To read more about Cooperative Power on their blog, click here.
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Powering Victoria Cooperative Steering Committee
Over recent weeks the Powering Victoria Cooperative Steering Committee (PVCSC) finished their Final Report, after twelve months of consistent and hard work. The work of the Steering Committee has involved an investigative process, drilling down to answer some of the questions which arise when you begin to look at an integrated and systemic approach to the economics of climate emergency. Which cooperatives will be required? Where would the jobs lie? Given that a good return on investment is available, which Superannuation Funds have good form in the currently existing renewables space? What are the ramifications and consequences of, and connections between, the various courses available to us?
The Committee’s work has been to drill down to look at the most achievable chunks of work, which skills/trades will be required, the finance required from social sector investors
such as Super and importantly, to identify work we can begin straight away. This is not a Report which will gather dust but which is already leading to the Business Plans for the work
PVCSC was made up of representatives from the 4 construction unions and reps from Melbourne University Climate Hub, Friends of the Earth, Australian Energy Foundation, with advisory role played by Cbus, the construction industry Superannuation Fund, among other participants brought in around specific questions. The Committee’s work was auspiced and Chaired by the Victorian Trades Hall Council.
The findings of the Report in relation to initial areas of work are two fold and bold:
- Entirely green housing for unionists and their families, along with other communities
- Energy efficiency
Earthworker Cooperative has been developing partnerships for some years now and so does not come empty handed to the findings of the Committee. We have partners now which see
us capable of providing:
- An 8 star rated house manufactured in the factory. We’ve got the house. We’ve got the skilled people to Project Manage, deal with financing and investment and can provide great returns to Superannuation investors.
- Battery storage through a sodium nickel chloride battery with no lithium and no lead
- Solar Hot Water
- Household heating
- Solar power through Cooperative Power Australia the union and community retailer and much more
- As we develop, through Genius energy, the provision of solar farms owned by unionists and other communities
- Where we need to build medium density using composite timber containing pine plantation timber only
- The promise of Australian made, most right now, with the rest moving towards locally made as soon as the number of jobs we create allows
Exciting proposals such as the roll out of a 1.4 MWh Battery Storage system, using our salt based batteries, initially making the two twenty foot containers here and then eventually
the batteries as well. This flexible, grid firming is a sure fire way to go and with no lithium involved our batteries are safe in fire prone areas; a side line to that is the Earthworker
Emergency Unit specifically designed for emergency situations to provide power to emergency services and communities when power has been lost due to disaster.
The work of the Committee is now at the stage where we are reporting back to the auspicing 4 construction unions and the Victorian Trades Hall Council executive.
From there the work to make the findings of the Report actually happen on the ground will be a Victorian (ultimately every State and Territory) union movement project. For the first time since the Green Bans in the 1970’s (one of the seed beds for the rise of Earthworker) all of this will begin to see our union movement provide a lead on climate emergency and species extinction through the creation of jobs the result of which assist in halting then reversing our connected crises. All through an economics based upon Cooperatives and Mutuals, through distributed ownership!
Thank you for your support,
- Earthworker Annual General Meeting (AGM). Thursday December 3rd 6:30pm - 8pm, online via zoom link. RSVP for the AGM here.
- Foe 'I am Greta' Webinar featuring Farida Iqbal (Redgum worker-owner) as a speaker. Join Friends of the Earth Melbourne for a panel discussion about the documentary I am Greta, the story of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. December 09, 2020 at 6pm - 7:30pm via zoom for more info and to purchase tickets click here
- If you are not already a member of Earthworker Cooperative you can sign up here and be actively involved in the just-transition to a cleaner and fairer economy. Any questions about membership do please get in touch by replying to this email.
- If you would like to donate to Earthworker Cooperative you can do so here. Any donations are really appreciated!
- Follow Earthworker on our new instagram
Whilst you are here, please make a tax deductible donation. Friends of the Earth relies on donations from people like you to keep running campaigns for social and environmental justice.