Worker Owned

A worker co-operative is a business entity owned and democratically controlled by the people who work in it – its employees. It allows employees to define working conditions, salaries and benefits, and share in surpluses in proportion to salary earned or hours worked.

Worker co-operatives date back to around the 1850s. Their development in the 20th century was closely tied to Catholic teaching, particularly to the principle of “subsidiarity” contained in the 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum, set out by Pope Leo XIII in 1891. Subsidiarity is the doctrine that decisions should be decentralised – that a higher body should not assume the functions of a lower body which the lower body is able to perform for itself.

The largest number of worker co-operatives are in Northern Italy and in Basque Spain. In the latter can be found Mondragon Co-operative which employs over 70,000 worker-owners. Australia has only a small number of worker co-ops, though they are significant organisations for their communities.

Worker owned co-operatives explained


Galactic Cooperative

Galactic Cooperative is a technology worker owned cooperative in Perth, providing advanced technical expertise across multiple industries. These include: 

Galactic Scientific – Providing scientific instrument, biomedical and radio broadcast support
Svelto Bikes – Creating stylish and exceptional electric bicycles
Galactic FX – Creating custom musical and electronic equipment

Type: Worker Owned

Industry: Purchasing and Supply Services

Hunter Net logo

HunterNet Co-Operative

HunterNet is a network of manufacturing, engineering and specialist services companies located in the Hunter and Central Coast Regions of NSW. HunterNet is widely recognised within Australian manufacturing and academia as the most successful industry ‘cluster’ of its type. The organisation involves over 100+ companies, active in national and international infrastructure and asset management, energy and resources, defence and advanced manufacturing supply chains. Through its membership, HunterNet represents tens of thousands of employees.

Year established: 1992

Type: Worker Owned

Industry: Purchasing and Supply Services

Kudos Services logo

Kudos Services

Kudos Services is Australia’s first employee-owned public service mutual, with a focus on empowering children, young people and their families to live their best lives.

Year established: 2018

Type: Worker Owned, Mutual

Industry: Community and Human Services, Healthcare

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This