Farida Iqbal & Freyja Catron
Workers control is increasingly essential to human survival. In the ‘normal’ economy, profit overrides all other concerns, from our own wellbeing to human rights to environmental justice
When we have autonomy in the workplace, we get to make the decisions about what our business does. If we don’t want our work to contribute to the climate crisis, we can make that decision. Say you work in a coal mine – the CEO of the mining company will make these decisions for you. You might have a power struggle with your boss over wages or the company’s activities but as long as your work is embedded in a top-down power structure geared toward profit, then this will always be a barrier to real change. Redgum and Earthworker are not motivated by profit. We’re not just out to make a quick buck at any cost. Our concern is for each other, for the community and for the planet.
Our contribution is clean in more ways than one. We don’t use environmentally damaging chemicals or products. We’ve made this decision and it worked for us; for our health, for our clients and for the environment.
Imagine if what we’re doing at Redgum on a small scale could be applied on a large scale. In theory workers from any industry could use the skills they’ve learned in their industry to run their work the way they want. Workers from any industry could do what we’ve done. Including the fossil fuel industry – why not? Together, the majority of the world’s people could reconfigure the whole economy toward human beings and the environment. Consider what’s possible. The polar bears could have their ice shelf back. The ferocious Humboldt squid could return to the ocean from whence it came. The flowering plants wouldn’t have to get so excited all the time and we could all stop sneezing so much (Global warming is driving up the pollen count. Did you know that? Google it. It’s interesting.) The human race could live another day and it would be a better life than what we had before.
Taking control of the economy is not just an abstract pipedream for us. Redgum workers live workers’ control as a reality. This humble project of ours is why we have hope for the future.