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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Latrobe Valley workers' co-op opens own factory in a bid to create new jobs

Since the privatisation of Victoria's coal-fired power stations in the 1990s, the Latrobe Valley has been known for high unemployment.

But now one group of workers has taken the task of creating new jobs into their own hands.

The Earthworker Cooperative has been around for about 20 years, but since the closure of the Hazelwood power station in 2016 the group has taken steps to realise its dream of a worker-owned factory in the industrial town of Morwell.

The factory produces solar hot-water systems for the domestic market and since opening a year ago, it has grown to employ five people.

Demand for Earthworker's product is growing and the group eventually wants to grow to employ 50 workers before looking to open other factories.

"This factory here is starting small but we believe the potential is enormous," Mr Musil said.

"If the community continues [its support] and we get some simple support from clever procurement decisions from the State Government, we can see this project really growing."

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