Distribution centres – the new choke points

We read this piece about a strike by Tesco distribution workers with interest: Staff at Tesco’s Dagenham distribution centre in Rainham vote ‘overwhelmingly’ to strike. This distribution centre located in Rainham distributes to Tesco convenience stores across the Greater London area. The strike is over a pay deal worth less than 3% over 12 months. The strike will be in the form of a series of 24 hour stoppages.

What’s interesting about this dispute and similar ones at other distribution centres is that it shows where the weak underbelly of modern day capitalism is. Whether they’re wholesale or retail distribution centres, shut downs caused by strike action at these facilities will have a disruptive effect if the actions are solidly supported and go on for long enough. With retail being a significant sector in the UK economy, workers in these distribution facilities are slowly starting to realise that they do have leverage when it comes to fighting for decent pay and conditions.

Despite the corporate bullshit, working conditions in distribution facilities operating 24/7 aren’t good. With constant monitoring of staff movements and productivity, workers are made to feel they’re little more than replaceable parts in a giant machine. If they slip up or fail to meet increasingly onerous targets set by management, they’re shown the door. It doesn’t have to be like that though. Once workers become more aware of the power they have to disrupt and become sufficiently well organised, it is possible to turn the tables and secure decent pay and working conditions.

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