Invitation: Workers' Inquiry in the Logistics and Warehouse Sector in London

Invitation: Workers' Inquiry in the Logistics and Warehouse Sector in London

We are planning a militant worker inquiry in the distribution networks around West-London. The initial plan is to continue to research and discuss the situation in the global and local logistics and warehouse sector, to get jobs in strategically interesting places and to potentially make some interventions. Of course all this would be decided by those who choose to join.

Invitation: Meeting on Workers' Inquiry in the Logistics and Warehouse Sector in London

LARC, 62 Fieldgate Street
Wednesday 18th September, 7pm.

We are planning a militant worker inquiry in the distribution networks around West-London. The initial plan is to continue to research and discuss the situation in the global and local logistics and warehouse sector, to get jobs in strategically interesting places and to potentially make some interventions. Of course all this would be decided by those who choose to join.

The global dispersion of production has succeeded in limiting the power of the working class in the US and Western Europe. This dispersion of the production process was only possible through a massive expansion of transport and logistics, which in turn has led to the re-concentration of workers in supply-chains and warehouses. In London this has resulted in tens of thousands of people, mostly immigrant, female, and minimal waged, being employed at the eastern and western boundaries of London, both around the 'London Gateway' port and in Park Royal and other industrial areas attached to Heathrow airport.

This mobile and 'multi-skilled' workforce reflect a broader condition of labour, namely that of a large 'low wage sector' in Europe enforced through minimum wages, wage freezes, changes to work contracts, benefits and workfare programs. This has resulted in the re-emergence of a condition in which many working class households have little to no money left towards the end of the month.

But these logistics and warehouse workers are specially located both in their importance for production and in their multiple connections to other workers. Current strikes in huge Walmart warehouses and ports in California and migrant workers strikes around Ikea's biggest distribution centre in Italy are indicators for an emerging collective confidence and these struggles happen in a very global dimension.

These workers are in a situation of potential power to break the chain. And given that they are not a ‘professional’ group, that they are mobile and that their workplace is connected to supermarkets and retail stores, struggles in these distribution centres could also disseminate a general class anger towards the low wage existence in London.

Please come to a discussion about the logistics and warehouse sector, the practice of the workers inquiry and our project in particular. Everyone welcome. And if you want to pick up some free copies of the new issue of AWW (see link), just pop by.

http://angryworkersworld.wordpress.com/aww-2-august-2013/

Attached to this invitation are three newly translated texts as suggested, but not necessary reading for the debate.

a) Proletarian practice within capitalist production
(translated from: wildcat no.93, Autumn 2012)
b) Political thesis on 'new proletariat' and re-concentration
(translated from: wildcat no.94, Spring 2013)
c) Interview guideline and questions for job diaries

www.angryworkersworld.wordpress.com
angryworkersworld@gmail.com

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(translated from: wildcat no.93, Autumn 2012)

Proletarian practice within capitalist production

The fundamental contradiction of the capital relation lies within the unity of the labour process and the process of valorisation. Capital develops labour as social labour by expanding its social character, at the same time, capital has to atomise labour politically, fixate it as individualised labour. Having a closer look at the history of class struggle, we can trace back how time and again workers have re-appropriated this social character of labour as their own power of struggle. This contradiction within the social labour process is the central starting point of revolutionary theory. Reformist critique laments the unfair relations of distribution - distribution of wealth or, in times of high unemployment, of labour. Or they get indignant about the stupidity or monotony of labour in capitalism, complaining about the destruction of 'subjectivity and personality'. Marx, in contrast, understood the permanent struggle between labour and capital as the driving force of the process of 'real subsumption'. He developed a concept, which the Marxists of the 2nd and 3rd International completely forgot and which is eradicated within contemporary Marxism e.g. people like Michael Heinrich. The very fact that workers have to perform 'abstract labour' becomes the starting point for their ability as a class to overthrow the current social relations. Exactly because labour is inter-exchangable, nothing ties workers to 'their' labour. This means that they can fight for its abolition.

Operaismo

'To overthrow all relations, in which humans remain downtrodden, enslaved, abandoned and despicable creatures' - how is this possible? The Operaists of the 1960s further developed the thought that in capitalism, this overthrow will take less the shape of a bloody insurrection, but rather one of a 'social revolution' by those who capital already forces to cooperate. "This was a rupture with the usual politics of simple slogans and somewhat more radical than the utopia of an all-decisive 'general strike'. Operaismo started from the opposite view, namely that we are only able to overthrow the complex power of capital once we start from the complex composition of the working class." Whoever uses the notion 'working class' is forced to asks for its 'complex composition', otherwise it will turn into an ideological rubber stamp. For the Stalinists of the 3rd International, the working class was a 'revolutionary subject' only as so far as they have always presumed the existence of a leading Political Party. And the various Trotskyite and Bordigist viewpoints tend to let a mystical working class jump out of their magicians hat - they always have an explanation at hand, even before they have actually engaged in a deeper inquiry of the respective situation. Once we understand class as being composed by gender, status, places of origins, qualifications etc. we can start asking about historically changing forms and contents of struggles. Questions concerning migration, waged work and reproductive work, 'self-employment' etc. enter the focus of attention. Such a notion of class is never assuming, but always asks for inquiry.

The concept of class composition criticises, on one side, the wrong materialism, which 'derives' class struggle from the common economical condition of workers in capitalism. On the other side it questions a philosophical understanding of class, which sets the working class as a pure antagonist, as the subject, which rebels and which choses a certain side of the barricade, independently from the given conditions of production. Class composition sets (revolutionary) subjectivity into relation with the material conditions. The composition of class relates to the 'organic composition of capital' (Marx), which in turn changes within and through class struggle. Operaismo tries to discern the tendency towards revolution from within the political re-composition of the 'social general worker' - not within the 'sabotage of the technicians', which used to be hip with the former New Left: the picture of a handful of super-qualified workers who only have to press a button to make everything come to a halt.

Once we assume that the path towards liberation proceeds through the 'turning around' of productive cooperation (in other words, in the process of turning the enforced and atomised cooperation within the social production process into a weapon of organisation), then the question of power and the question of revolutionary subjectivity are closely related: From a class position there is no (revolutionary counter-) power without content. Collectivity is the substance of counter-power and it is its content. We don't have to teach workers from the outside for which goal they are supposed to use their power. They only have this power once they develop a collective subjectivity which breaks with the individualistic and privatistic subjectivity of each class member - if they break the political atomisation within productive cooperation. In this process workers understand that the social character of labour developed by capital cannot exist independently from them and that they create this social character on a daily level through their cooperation.

Interviews

Conversations, discussions, interviews, leaflets as part of a militant inquiry have to engage within this process described above. The 'externals' first of all have to understand how the immediate process of production actually functions - which also requires an analysis of the structure of capital. How do workers 'develop' the production (usage of machinery; mutual aid at work; not sticking to official rules; behaviour towards the upper hierarchy; cooperation despite being surrounded by temp workers and other 'divisions'...)? How can atomisation and political individualisation be overcome? What causes (hidden, simmering) conflicts? We also have to put ourselves and workers in front of a mirror in order to understand our actual practices - the best way to overcome certain mystifications is to understand what we are (already) actually doing.

This is the core of Operaist inquiry: capital is forced to develop labour socially, but at the same time make sure that workers remain individualised. Capital has already organised workers; but the individualised worker creates illusions in order to bear her/his condition. A conversation or interview therefore cannot limit itself to describe the contradictions and conflicts within the production process, but it will have to show how the contradictions and conflicts are part of the functioning of the production process - how workers often do improvised 'extra' tasks in order to compensate for the contradictions of 'management hierarchies' or the capitalist contradiction between churning out as much as possible, but at the same time supposedly trying to 'produce and sell quality'. Interviews is not just about 'getting info'. If the conversation goes well it 'produces' something: In the cooperation new insights and understandings emerge. Those engaged in inquiry are at the same time those who learn and who change themselves, as well.

Where to start? Are there any sectors or fields from where a political recomposition of the class could originate and spread?

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(translated from: wildcat no.94, Spring 2013)

Umschlagspunkte*: Political thesis on 'new proletariat' and re-concentration

*Umschlagspunkt
a) point of sudden change, tipping point, turning point
b) point of handling cargo goods, e.g. loading cargo from ship to rail

We have witnessed decades of growth in traffic and for at least two decades we have seen that this growth has deteriorated our working conditions - and rendered something like 'working class' more and more invisible. Now we hear of security guards on strike bringing airports to a standstill; in the US, Walmart workers are on strike and dockers are blockading ports on the West-Coast; even the accident of the Costa Concordia in 2012 exposed the 'mass work' in the bellies of the high-class liners - what's going on? A revival of the working class? Struggling proletarians everywhere? A historical turning point?

A new proletariat

In Germany during the last fifteen years, more and more people have been expelled from the system of working relations based on collective contracts and systems of social security (pension funds, health insurance, public education system) - which also includes representation through trade unions. The Hartz (1) laws have accelerated these developments drastically. More than one million people have been permanently on HartzIV since 2005, out of which 320,000 work full-time. For a short historical moment, the introduction of the Hartz laws resulted in unemployment, poverty and social exclusion becoming central issues of social discussion and confrontation e.g. the 'Monday' demonstrations in East Germany which expressed a confrontation with questions about what kind of conditions we want to live and work in this society. During this moment the radical left remained at the margins for too long and the DGB trade unions (with whose help the Hartz laws came into existence) were a massive obstruction to any further protests - the historical moment passed. Since the intensification of the global crisis it is more or less only Sarrazin (2) who mentions this new proletariat - and depicts them as 'migrants, stupid and lazy'.

New mass work

Most of these 'new poor' actually work. At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2005, Gerhard Schroeder put the Hartz legislation into the right context: "We have created the best low-wage sector in Europe" (3). This low wage sector has expanded massively, reaching from precarious jobs (currently there are about one million people employed through temp agencies), day labour, 'small scale self-employment', small entrepreneurs to labour which is formally not registered as waged employment e.g. work-fare programs (1 Euro jobs, voluntary work etc.) and prison labour. Within this 'low wage sector' there are large contingents of (industrial) mass work, characterised by flexible and long working hours and an over-proportional employment of migrant workers. Apart from the increase in exports, these types of jobs - so-called 'simple', manual, repetitive, badly paid - is the only thing which 'booms' in Germany. And these jobs mark a decisive advantage of the German export industry: the wage difference between permanently employed skilled workers and temp workers is the highest within the EU.

Across sectors and global

The proletariat engaged in this new type of mass work is situated at many different locations of the global supply-chain, amongst others, at quite central inter-faces of the chain. The new mass work is precisely not a sector, but reaches across sectors: between unskilled manufacturing jobs, office and checkout work and manual tasks within logistics. Statistically most of this employment is counted as 'services'. Quantitatively the most significant sectors for this type of work will still be the classical sectors like care work, retail and catering - but during recent years, more rapid growth was registered amongst so-called 'production-related services', such as temp work within production or 'logistics' as an inter-face between production and transport (logistics companies taking over pre-assembly work etc.). In the newspeak of the economists, 'service provider' simply means 'supplier' or often just 'manual workers'.

Massification and industrialisation of transport work

During the last decades the big production plants - the strongholds of power of the mass worker - have been segmented and disjointed. This was only possible through the multiplication of transport work. During the 1980s there have been frequent waves of struggles in the transport sector, lead by 'professional groups'. These were basically the controllers (air traffic controllers, runway controllers), the drivers (trucks, rail, aeroplanes - less so ships) and the drivers of big machinery in the ports. They have proven that they are able to bring the transport chain to a standstill. They were not able to, and they did not have to overcome their professional boundaries. This is true for the truck drivers (who have the additional problem of small-entrepreneur-ism), as much as for train drivers, pilots etc.. Initially their position was strengthened by just-in-time production and 'storage halls on wheels' - even short work stoppages had a massive impact and often the mere threat to go on strike sufficed to obtain wage increases.

The technological attack since the 1980s has undermined the position of power of these qualified 'transport workers'. Simple manual labour, on the other hand, has been expanded - although during the first phase, the expansion went hand-in-hand with spacial dispersion. The proliferation of communication technologies (internet, mobile phone technology, GPS, ...) served as a means of control of this dispersed labour. At the same time previously exclusive professions like stewardesses or train drivers were turned into semi-skilled jobs. The working conditions in transport and logistics have set the standards for the now general conditions of the 'new proletariat'. Do the struggles in these sectors now indicate a general turn-around after years of being on the defensive? At any rate, the GDL (5) strikes in 2007/08 were the first 'proletarian train drivers strikes' in Germany for a century.

The state attack

Working conditions deteriorated not as a result of the 'free movement of the market'. In August 1981, when Ronald Reagan had the striking air-traffic controllers arrested and paraded in handcuffs and shackles he came out with a battle-cry against these 'professional groups' - and established a tendency to use the police and military against striking transport workers (trucker, dockers etc.) from then on. During recent years the military has been used against strikes in Greece (trucker, metro-drivers, ferries) and in Spain (air-traffic controllers). Since the decision of the federal constitutional court in August 2012 it is legal to use the German military within the national borders of Germany. Under this military threat, the job centre and state have fostered a booming temp work sector and drive this cheap labour towards the distribution centres and warehouse zones.

Centralisation without concentration - a turning point?

In the context of 'globalisation' huge corporations were created (centralisation), without the emergence of new spaces of mass, direct cooperation (concentration) on the workers' side. The usual mechanism on the workers' side (resistance of workers of a particular company or professional group) had little impact. The systemic risk within the global transport chains remained an empty threat for the time being. In the US, where developments are some years ahead, this process has been reversing for about one and a half decades and bigger workers' concentrations have been re-emerging in particular places. The number of people employed in warehouses has increased five-fold between 1998 and 2006 and the warehouses continuously grow in size. Huge distribution centres take over more and more productive performances (re-work of faulty items, assembly, packaging, labelling etc.) There is an increase of 'functions' workers have to perform on one side and an increase of organic composition (automation) on the other.

The global traffic jam - the struggle starts

There has also been a turning point regarding the tendency of struggles. In recent years we have seen an upswing of struggles in the huge assembly centres in China (Foxconn) and within the global transport sector. 'The first global traffic jam' (4) in 2004 was a turning point. Workers are fed up with having to compensate for ailing infrastructure and bad organisation by having to improvise constantly and to extend their working-hours. In a historical moment, when capital is highly dependent on the cooperation of workers, workers increasingly refuse to cooperate. Capital can only dissolve the over-accumulation-crisis if it would be able to translate the knowledge and abilities of living labour into a technological leap forward. In a system which increasingly appears merely as control of individualised labour and coercion, we are witnessing a growing lack of willingness to 'collaborate'. The global traffic jam is, at first, only the negative, 'technical' expression of this refusal. But given that in the current historical constellation capital is forced to invert the tendency of decentralisation, we can get a glimpse of the potentiality of the global working class shining through the global jam. Thus our attention towards the distribution centres and their spacial concentration.

The end of a dream

During the phase of 'globalisation' the world-wide availability of goods and information further increased, but the social content of the capitalist promise of mobility contracted: labour migration is partially combated in military terms; more and more people are excluded from social mobility. Spacial mobility was given a bad name due to ecological reasons and became more expensive. By now the expansion of traffic also meets 'natural' limits and in the old 'developed countries' individual mobility also decreases due to other reasons ('peak travel', 'peak car'). For several years capitalist mobility is confronted on a global scale by movements against big transport-infrastructure projects and power plants. Historically, during phases of crisis, struggles have initially transferred themselves from the sphere of production to the sphere of 'circulation'. In these movements against transport-infrastructure projects we don't see an inversion of this tendency, given that the transport sector is, after the 'public sector', the sector with the highest strike rates globally. One of the reasons for why movements against transport infrastructure projects become more popular is due to the fact that people experience their own working and living conditions - like flexibilisation, longer working hours, intensification and monotony of work - as a 'price' they have to pay for capitalist mobility. At first, they find it easier to demonstrate on the streets than to fight in the workplace. Consequently there is a material chance that these 'movements' and 'workers' struggle' come together. In the US we can see in which direction things might be heading: the mobilisation of the troqueros, the strikes in the ports, the actions of warehouse workers - and the attention of Occupy Wall Street towards these struggles are precursors of something new.

Class!

These movements, mobilisations and struggles are looking for a leverage which would enable them to really change things. Some paths are detours (to mix up trade unions with working class), some are dead-ends (demands towards the state), but they are all steps to overcome the paternalism of 'organizing' and of 'taking care of the poor workers' from above.

In the 1950s it was a popular opinion that there is no working class anymore - by the end of the 1960s no one would have said this. Three decades later this opinion again became mainstream. This is less a sociological problem, rather than the question whether there is a force which is able to overthrow the whole thing. If there isn't then we are more likely to depend on the state to improve our lives.

If you understand the current developments as an 'erosion of the middle-class' you end up with a form of social Darwinism like Sarrazin. To understand the developments just as 'an expansion of the low wage sector' leads to demands of state regulation like minimum wages or guaranteed income, general health insurance etc. In these cases you look for the point of conflict not 'from below' but within the political arena or by displaying pity with the 'poor temp workers at Amazon'.

We want to turn this perspective around and see the new proletariat as the historical subject. At the beginning of the 1960s Alquati pointed out that the skilled workers perceived the assembly line workers not as 'proper workers': they were not skilled, they had no class consciousness, they were not staying in the factory from apprenticeship till retirement... - but the workers' rebellions in the end of the 1960s largely originated from the assembly departments. Today we witness similar developments.

Automation creates even more 'unskilled labour everyone could do'. The division between 'core employees' and 'marginal, outsourced workers' erodes due to the process of the conditions of formerly permanent workers becoming more precarious.

Technological attack and re-composition

Crisis of over accumulation. People are surrounded with ever more capital, with ever bigger freight ships, ever bigger trucks, more technologies of control - nevertheless efficiency is declining. Here again, a review of the situation more than half a century ago. During the inquiry at Olivetti in the early 1960s, the freshly recruited factory workers said "you could think that at Olivetti people study what dis-organisation means…". In relation to this Alquati developed the understanding that as long as workers only relate individually to what they experience as capitalist dis-organisation this would lead them into the maze of capitalist improvement suggestion schemes, wage increases tied to growth of productivity and in the end to the idea of 'self-management'. In contrast, workers can realise their power for a revolutionary rupture once they understand the systemic nature capitalist dis-organisation and of how the actual 'functioning' depends on their constant improvisations in the production process.
Proletarianisation. A migrant work-force, which on one side has got a lot of skills (several languages and cultures, able to operate most modern communication technologies) and which is forced to 'fill in the gaps and compensate for the shortcomings within the capitalist plan' - but who is on the other side increasingly exploited 'on demand' as an allegedly 'unskilled' work-force.
Concentration. The main weapon of the capitalist counterrevolution of the recent decades was the de-composition and segmentation of the big workers' concentrations into sub-sub production chains. Through this they were able to put more and more pressure on the working class. This did not happen without resistance, but no struggle developed a wider mass front-line, or even a 'public discourse'. In Germany we saw a turning-point in this development roughly six years ago: in most cases striking workers meet with sympathy, they are largely seen as people who 'struggle in the interest of us all'. This atmosphere combined with the process of re-concentration in the sphere of exploitation could result in a qualitative leap - once people on strike are perceived as people with power to change things fundamentally. And this time working class struggle would actually be global.

(1) http://www.gongchao.org/www.prol-position.net/nl/2005/01/hartz
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thilo_Sarrazin
(3) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/aug/30/low-paid-germans-mini-jobs
(4) Congestion in US ports leading to queues of cargo ships creating backlogs which in turn affected cargo operations in Chinese ports

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(translated and edited version based on debate with friends from wildcat)

Questionnaire

/// Interview Guideline

The interview guideline has three sections:

1) Labour Process and Workplace;
2) Wage;
3) 'Representation'/Politics.

/// Overview of the three sections of the interview guideline

1) Labour Process and Workplace

What do we want to discuss:
* What is the scope for collective workers' power on the shop-floor and within/beyond the labour process?
* How does the labour process mystify the relation between workers and capital?
* How are the relations between workers shaped through the labour process?
* How does the situation at work relate to the reproductive sphere and what spaces exist for collectivity?

2) Wage

What do we want to discuss:
* Is the wage (in relation to work intensity and living costs) a collective point of conflict or could it become a point of conflict?
* How does the wage serve to divide workers?
* Do we over-estimate the role of the wage and are, e.g. the general working conditions of more significance for people? What do we mean by working conditions: working/shift-times? monotony? stress? arbitrariness? physical and mental strain?
" Is the basic 'subsistence' of workers more dependent on the indirect wage (working tax credit, child benefits etc.) and on wages of other family members?
* How does management try to individualise the wage question and do they succeed? (individual company contracts, individual bonus-systems) How could this be turned around into a collective question again?

3) Representation and Politics

What do we want to discuss:
* Are there any tendencies to overcome set boundaries between us and between workers of different companies and sectors?
* Do we see the emergence of new forms of representation? What role does formal and informal representation play in the mediation and integration of conflicts?
* What are the limits of conflict management on the shop-floor? What could be our role regarding self-organisation which goes beyond representation?

/// Guiding Questions and Concretising Questions

The main guiding questions are in bold, they should be asked in all interviews. We should try to formulate them in a way which invites people to talk. The subsequent questions hone in on specific aspects of this area.

In the square brackets [...] after each guiding question we tried to formulate why we ask the question and what we want to understand together with the people we interview.

/// Questionaire

1) Labour Process and Workplace

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE COMPANY / THE WORKPLACE?
* What did you notice during the first days at work?
* Noise, smells, buildings, work-mates, atmosphere…
* Was there anything peculiar?

FOR HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED IN THIS JOB AND WHY DID YOU START HERE?
[What is the personal relation towards the job?]
* How did you find the job?
* Why were you hired?
* Did they want references etc.?
* Do you have a permanent or temporary contract? Did formal or informal qualifications play a role when hired?
* What kind of information did you have about the company/work-place and the working conditions (wages, working-times, …) beforehand?
* Where did you work before?
* Do you have a formal qualification?

HOW WERE YOU INTRODUCED TO THE JOB/COMPANY?
[How are newly hired people treated? What kind of 'stories' are told, what kind of behaviour is recommended by other workers? What was the impression of the relation between colleagues and lower management/foremen? First impressions of divisions between workers]
* Is there a training period or do people have to start right away?
* Who did the training, work-mates or seniors?
* What were you told about how to do the job, did work-mates give you any advice?

WHAT DO YOU ACTUALLY DO ON THE JOB? WHAT DOES YOUR WORK LOOK LIKE?
[How does the cooperation/collaboration within the labour process look like? contradiction between labour process and process of valorisation]
* In which way does your work depend on work steps others have performed before you? Who, in turn, does depend on your work?
* How do you know what you actually have to do as part of your job task?
* What kind of machines or tools (computer, scanner, ...) do you use?
* How is the work formally organised within your department or company (individual work, team work? how is the team composed? department management)?
* Are certain tasks allocated to certain 'groups of people'? (e.g. men drive forklifts, women do packaging)?
* Have work organisation and/or work technology changed in recent times? How was this done and what impact did it have?

WHAT HAPPENS IN CASE OF FAULTS OR DEFECTS (INTERRUPTION OF WORK FLOW)?
[What happens once the labour process stops? Does the cooperation become visible? Are people disciplined? Who solves the problems?]
* What causes work to stop?
* Do you inform senior staff of defects/faults? Do you have to? Do senior staff notice defects/faults automatically?
* Who solves technical problems? What is the relationship to these workers?
* Is there a quality control in place? Who controls the quality?
* Is there an 'improvement scheme', where workers are invited to make improvement suggestions?
* Are there disciplinary measures or warnings in case of faults/mistakes?

HOW IS THE WORK TARGET DEFINED?
* How do you know what you have to achieve, how much you have to work?
* Is there a lot of pressure to meet the target? How does that pressure manifest itself?
* How is the target/performance fixed? Or is there a 'competition' between single workers (is that encouraged in any way)?
* Can you 'pretend' to be a good worker (fiddle numbers etc.)? Do you stick to the rules and targets? If not why and what do you do instead?
* Were or are there any changes in terms of work pace or work process?

WHAT ARE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS LIKE TO OTHER WORKERS? HOW DO PEOPLE GET ON?
[What kind of lines of division or tension exist? How does the informal cooperation work amongst workers?]
* How is the workforce composed (men/women, old/young, migrants/locals)? Are there 'groups' (people who hang out together) in the company and what does make them a group?
* Do other people help you if you have trouble to get your work done? Do you help others get their work done? What does it that look like?
* What kind of things do you talk about, what kind of information do you share?
* Is there bullying between people?

WHAT KIND OF CONFLICTS EXIST BETWEEN DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS AND 'AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY'? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THESE CONFLICTS?
[e.g. do the packers think that the truck drivers should help loading/unloading]
* How do different departments work together in terms of work-flow?
* Can you visit other departments or do you have direct contact with workers of other departments?
* What do you know about the work and conditions in other departments and how do you know about this?

WITH WHAT KIND OF SUPPLIERS OR 'CLIENT COMPANIES' DO YOU DEAL WITH? WHAT IS THE RELATION BETWEEN YOU?
[What kind of cooperation beyond company boundaries?]
* What is supplied by whom? Supplier (big companies, small work-shops, home-based production?) Who are the suppliers?
* Are there any other companies located on the premises or near by?
* What do you know about working conditions, wages etc. at the suppliers? Or the companies you supply to?
* Any information about conflicts at the suppliers or in companies located nearby?

WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO AFTER WORK?
* How long does it take you to get from and to work? How do you commute?
* What do you have to do in terms of housework, for whom and how long does it take you per day? If you live with others, how is this housework shared out?
* How is your childcare arranged?
* Do you meet work-mates after work? What do you do? What do you talk about?

WHY DOES YOUR WORK AND THE WORK OF YOUR COLLEAGUES EXIST?
* Is your work important for society? Why?
* What impact would it have if you and your colleagues would stop working for a day? For a week?
* Have you learned anything at your job which you could use in other jobs or other fields of life?
* How do you think your work is seen by others, by the 'rest of society'?
* Do you think your work is specific for the period of time we are living in? For this part of the world?

2) Wage

HOW IS YOUR WAGE COMPOSED?
[relation between basic wage and bonuses; how do differences create lines of division etc.]
* Do they pay bonuses (shift work, weekends)?
* Do they pay piece rate or hourly/time-based wage?
* Is the wage based on a collective contract? Are parts of the wage tied to individual or group performances or 'company business results'?
* Do you work overtime? Is this paid? (vs. annual working time accounts)?
* Other wage elements or perks (for clothing, cleaning etc.)?
* Are there disciplinary wage cuts (e.g. for being late, absent without explanation, 'mistakes' at work)?
* Do you check your pay slip and do you understand it fully? (Do you have to ask for corrections of the payment? Who do you complain to in case of incorrect payment)?

WHAT DO YOU OFFICIALLY HAVE TO DO FOR YOUR WAGE?
[What is the official relation between wage and performance? How do they create the basis for compliant behaviour?]
* Does your work contract contain a clear job description?
* Do they control your performance? How?
* Are you supposed to do overtime, weekend work? Are there official performance targets?
* Have working times and wages changed since you have worked in the job?
* How have they enforced these changes? How did they explain them? Did they create any conflicts?
* Where would you draw a line and how would you explain that (e.g. referring to work contract or to general conditions)?

WHAT IS THE BASIS OF DIFFERENCES IN WAGES AMONGST WORKFORCE?
[How does the wage system work in regards to divisions and creation of a wage dynamic]
* What kind of wage differences exist in your work place? What do you think about it?
* How are these differences determined and why?
* Is there a general collective wage agreement, a company based collective contract or no contract at all?
* Are there different contract relations (agency work, temporary-limited contracts, permanent contracts)? How does this play out on the shop floor: how many people on what type of contracts? How does this define relationships between people, their status?
* Do you know what your colleagues earn?
* Are there forms of staff representation and what kind of role do they play when it comes to fix individual wages?

HOW IS YOUR HOUSEHOLD INCOME COMPOSED?
* How much do you earn?
* What do you have to pay for with this wage? How much is left at the end of the month?
* Who and what do you have to support financially with your wage?
* What are you able to afford?
* Do you have a second job? Does your partner or other household members have a paid job?
* Do you receive any social benefits (working tax credit, child benefit, housing benefit)?
* Do you have savings? Do you own your house? Are you in debt?

WHAT ARE YOUR WORKING TIMES AND HOW DO YOU COPE WITH THEM?
[what is the relation between flexibility and 'rigidity' of working times and how is this perceived]
* Who determines the working times and when?
* Is how many hours you spend on the job on a specific day fixed beforehand or is this sometimes decided while you are at work?
* Who decides how long you have to work?
* What kind of impact do working-times have on family, relationships, 'leisure time'?
* How many hours do you work on average? Overtime? Paid holidays? Shift systems?

DO YOU WANT TO KEEP THE JOB? IS THE JOB A TEMPORARY OR LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS?
* What do you do or/and what do your work mates do in order to keep the job?
* How does this job and your quality of life compare to previous jobs (e.g. do you have more or less time/energy for other activities)?
* How does your current wage compare to previous jobs?
* How does your wage compare to wages in other companies in your region?
* How do you see your future in terms of the job and and the life it allows you to lead?

3) Representation/'Politics'

HOW DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB AND WHAT YOU DO?
[what does lead to conflicts and what is perceived as conflicts?]
* What type of conflicts exist at work?
* What do you and others think are the main problems at work?
*Do conflicts relate to the concrete conditions of work and work intensity (Monotony, stress, arbitrariness, additional work tasks)? Are there conflicts with superior staff?
* What form do these conflicts take (open, hidden, individual, collective)?

WHO DO YOU TURN TO IN CASE OF CONFLICTS? AND HOW?
[how does management try to deal with conflicts? formal and informal forms of representation?]
* Do you have or do your work-mates have any experience with collective forms of resistance at work? What are they?
* What do you do when conflicts arise?
* What other ways would there be?

IS THE TRADE UNION PRESENT ON THE SHOP FLOOR? ARE THERE SHOP-STEWARDS OR OTHER FORMS OF REPRESENTATION?
* What do they do and how are they perceived by workers?
* Has there been an 'organising campaign'? What do you and others think of it?

ARE THERE EXPERIENCES AND/OR INFORMATION ABOUT CONFLICTS IN OTHER COMPANIES AND/OR COUNTRIES OF YOUR SECTOR?
* How do you get to know about them?
* What do you think of them?
* What chances do you see for a 'workers' collective' or other forms of self-organisation?
* How could you meet and what could you do?
* What kind of support would that kind of group need from the outside? Who could support?

ARE YOU ACTIVE YOURSELF (INFORMALLY? IN THE TRADE UNION ETC.)?