Pushing Dust: Work Report from Greenford Street Cleansing Gangs

Pushing Dust: Work Report from Greenford Street Cleansing Gangs

We look at the company structure, the work-mates, the re-structuring and how the trade union engages with it.

We had been distributing WorkersWildWest at Greenford refuse/street cleansing and local bus depot before and talked to some guys, so when the road sweeper job came up I took it. Street sweeping is low on the alienation scale, keeps you fit, you get to know the area and you always meet quirky folk with few pretensions. This report is less about the work as such, so if you’re looking for a career in road sweeping, better read my earlier report from when I pushed brooms in Hackney:


In this report we look more into how loading refuse trucks or clicking? your litter picker on Ealing side-streets connects you to the big bucks of the Spanish real estate bubble. Amey, the company to which Ealing council has outsourced the rubbish business is a subsidiary of the multi-national infrastructure company Ferrovial Services, which owns, amongst others, 25 per cent of Heathrow airport.

In the second part it is mainly about the colleagues, their previous experiences and the conversations we had. One outcome of the conversations was the plan to write an article on ‘family crisis’ and how people organise their domestic life for issue no.4 of WorkersWildWest.

Finally we describe the planned restructuring and job cuts, the GMB meeting about it and our leaflet intervention. Enjoy and be in touch!

* Swish brooms and Spanish booms - The Company

You all know the hype-theory from neoliberal times that the flutter of a butterfly causes landslides on the other side of the globe and shit. Everything is connected, so there is a fair chance that a subversive wiggle of my colleagues’ swish brooms will make the global infrastructure bubble burst. It sounds slightly mad, but then the dynamics of over-accumulated capital are quite mad. We work for Amey, a subsidiary of Ferrovial Services, the second biggest company in Spain. They started making big money as a railway and road construction company in the 1950s, thanks to Franco’s fascist developmental dictatorship. They really took off in the early 2000s, with the global real estate and privatisation boom. Ferrovial went on a buying spree, gobbling up for example: Australia’s biggest airport in Sydney, followed by Bristol, Belfast, Glasgow, Southampton airports, they then paid £10.3 billion for a 30 per cent share in Heathrow airport and they took over Amey plc, a British contractor and major investor in Tube Lines, one of the two public–private partnership companies responsible at the time for the maintenance of London Underground's lines and rolling stock. The del Pino family holds around 40 per cent shares of Ferrovial, that makes them the 60th or so richest family in the world, with wealth of around 8 billion USD. We should remember that when Amey pays us peanuts and whinges about making losses with the Ealing council contract!

The subsidiary Amey is a big shot in the UK, employing around 21,000 permanent staff and many more agency workers. They maintain 30,000 miles of UK highways, run railtrack projects (they co-run the DLR in London), engage in street cleansing and refuse collection and they have a contract to maintain 49,000 army homes. They are basically the private arm of the restructuring of the ‘public’ or rather state sector. For example Sheffield City Council gave Amey a contract to maintain the city’s infrastructure in a project worth £2 billion in revenues, taking responsibility for 1,900 km of road, 68,000 street lights and 500 traffic signals. Around 500 council workers were transferred to Amey, working conditions for newly hired workers deteriorated from then on.

Contracting out of public services has accelerated over the past four years as public spending budgets have been cut, with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) claiming in 2012 that the UK was "in the middle of the biggest wave of outsourcing since the 1980s". It estimates 5.4m people currently work in outsourced public services in the UK. Privatisation gives some people a good chance to get good commissions and pay outs, but it also creates more bureaucracy and double admin work, given that the state apparatus doesn’t hand over control completely - in our case supervisors had to take photos of every street we cleaned in order to back themselves up against council complaints. We have all heard of the various ‘failures’ of privatisation, most prominently within the railways, but also Atos (medical assessments), Capita (army recruitment and pension) or G4S (prisons, meter readings) buggered up. We can only speculate about the reason for the current series of serious failures of these outsourcing efforts: a) these companies operate within a public sector which is undermined by austerity cuts and although they are formally independent enterprises, in their day-to-day operations they depend on a fragile public sector collaboration; b) they suffer from under-investment and are more subjected to the current ups-and-downs of the market, which affects their operations; c) their own workers’ are less willing to work more for less in a situation where they are surrounded by public sector colleagues who still have better conditions and public status; d) necessary cooperation between ‘public’ and ‘private sector workers might be hampered.

In Amey’s case there have been various fuck ups. Since summer 2014 Birmingham City Council and Amey, which runs a £2.7 billion contract to maintain city roads and pavements over 25 years, have been locked in a dispute. There have been loads of complaints about poorly repaired roads, potholes and delays on works. A similar legal battle is going on between Amey and Herefordshire council. It becomes clear that ‘privatisation’ is closely linked to the state’s austerity politics (budget cuts) and how both are affected by the crisis: In 2003 Herefordshire council entered into a contract with national construction and engineering firm Jarvis PLC for the provision of highway maintenance contract services worth around £13m a year over 10 years. The contract involved establishing a joint venture company called Herefordshire Jarvis Services (HJS) with staff transferred over from the council. Just a year later Jarvis saw its’ share price plummet and started talking about breaking up the company to survive. A proposed sale of HJS fell through and the council had to prepare contingency plans to keep key services running until Amey agreed to buy the 80 per cent share with the council keeping its 20 per cent - creating a situation where making the distinction into a ‘public’ or ‘private’ sector becomes increasingly irrelevant. Since then state and company are in a dispute over work performances, but also about who has to pay outstanding debts to HJS subcontractors.

In Ealing the rubbish collection and street cleansing had been outsourced to various companies before Amey took over (May Gurney, Kier, Enterprise). In Ealing this means employing around 250 people and leasing the required vehicles on an annual budget of around £15 million. Companies have to cut corners in order to get a profit out of this. Under Enterprise in 2012 - 2013 missed rubbish collections reported to Ealing Council totalled over 54,000. It’s not only the rubbish collection that is connected to multi-nationals, also the rubbish processing. The big west London tip in Brentford, where we unload our rubbish, is run by Sita, a subsidiary of Suez Environnement, which has a presence on five continents, employs over 80,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than 14 billion euros. Colleagues claimed that the refuse is sold and transported to Sweden and Ireland for incineration. There is big money to be made in recycling: in the 320 councils in England, out of the total household waste of 23,169,167 tonnes some 10,117,005 tonnes were sent for recycling, composting or reuse. That is 43.7% of the total household waste in England. The EU directive aims at 50 per cent.

The main way to squeeze a profit out of the contracts is to squeeze the workers, e.g. with the takeover in Ealing Amey introduced Saturdays as a regular working day, saving money on overtime bonus. In other places these attacks led to disputes. Amey motorway maintenance workers went on strike in February 2015 after management offered only a 1.75 per cent wage increase (Unite). Workers at the DLR in London have been on strike several times during 2015 (RMT). In November 2014 road traffic electricians in Sheffield went on strike over the loss of terms and conditions, resulting in a £500 annual wage cut (Unite). In August 2013 Amey refuse and street cleansing workers in Liverpool struggled for higher pay, e.g. through a three week work-to-rule (GMB). In September 2012 Amey rail workers were out over pay (RMT).

The refuse and recycling sector in general has seen some bigger disputes in the last two, three years. In January 2016 around 40 to 50 recycling workers employed by Kier Ltd. for Bath & NE Somerset Council went on strike for equal pay. “Loaders at the Keynsham depot are paid just £7.81-an-hour, £2 less than workers doing the same job at a site just six miles away” at Bristol City council. Faced with the threat of rolling strike action Kier management improved the pay offer. The recycling workers (Unite) voted to accept a pay offer of 9% backdated to July 2015, another 6% in July 2016 and another 3% in July 2017. In Sheffield the GMB is to ballot members employed by the Green Company running five recycling centres as a subcontractor of Veolia for Sheffield City Council in a long running dispute over pay, facilities and how the contract is managed. In Bromley refuse workers employed by Veolia threatened strike action in September 2015 and got a 2 per cent wage increase out of it.

So we can see a double tension rising in the ‘private public sector’: the connection to multi-national corporations, stock markets and cascades of debts pull on one side of ‘public services’, while workers on the inside slowly find their footing and increase the wage pressure. Let it rip…

* Old boys’ networks - The Depot

Around 30 to 40 per cent of the 300 or so refuse, recycling and street cleansing workers employed at Greenford depot are not directly employed by Amey, but through agencies (Hays, Class One, Berry Recruitment, Extra Drivers, Future Force). Many guys have worked through agencies for two years or longer, without having been offered a permanent position. For the first 12 weeks sweepers and loaders are paid the minimum wage of £6.70 (end of 2015) p/h, which then goes up to the permanent workers’ wage of £7.41 p/h. Van drivers get around £1 more, 7.5t truck drivers £3 more per hour. There is only one woman working on refuse and a handful working as sweepers. Compared to other councils and street cleansing/refuse companies these wages aren’t good, e.g. in Hackney even agency sweepers get £9.25 p/h - see appendix for report on conditions in Hackney. But then there are councils like Hounslow, where some sweepers are employed on £3.50 p/h apprenticeship contracts.

Most managers and supervisors have ‘worked their way up’. Most of them are white-British or from a Polish background (there are no Black or Asian managers, although there are quite a few workers of that background). In particular some of the white-British managers keep good relations with white-British workers through favouritism. Older cockney lads are kept on, who would have probably been sacked for under-performance if they were not white-British. Certain people get easier jobs and the much sought for Sunday overtime. Managers themselves, who can hardly walk their fat arses around the corner, do three hours Sunday overtime, which pays them 16 hours. All this creates a certain cohesion between some workers and some managers.

Apart from these ties management mainly uses the drivers to keep a check on loaders and sweepers. Drivers have to load and sweep, as well (apart from recycling, which is sorted on the truck while the driver moves the vehicle), but they are given more of a responsibility. A good or bad word from a driver about your performance is decisive. Workers know that. A guy from Romania, who had worked nine years in a bread factory in Istanbul in the late 1990s, then worked pulling cables on UK rail-tracks, washing cars and then ended up sweeping streets in Ealing, used to bring Bollywood music CD’s for his Nepalese driver and special dash-board cleaner, trying to please him. The division between temps and permanents is not that deep, at least not on a daily work level. Permanents tend to be older, they are allowed to work a bit less and get away with it.

Similar to the situation in west London warehouses, the life and work experiences of the colleagues is impressive. First of all, workers share a lot of experiences having worked in local companies: one guy drove a delivery van at the big Tesco warehouse in Greenford, another colleague worked in ready-meal factories in Park Royal. It is a good place to get to know local working conditions. But people have literally worked all over the globe; a workmate from Somalia had worked as a delivery driver in Dubai, shared a room with three Pakistanis and learned Urdu. Workers have studied agriculture in Zimbabwe, ran coffee bars in Sao Paolo, ploughed fields in Nepal and Punjab, hustled in Cape Town, studied economics in Bratislava, lived in spiritual communes in Devon, did time in Pentonville prison, worked at Suzuki and Nokia plants in Hungary, roamed the streets of Rome as missionaries, laid bricks in Buenos Aires, worked at airports in Sydney, did carpentry in Dominica, lived as children of in-house domestic servants in Chelsea in the 1950s and been miners in Yorkshire in the 1970s. The conversations encouraged me to write some short biographies for one of the upcoming issues of WorkersWildWest. Management wankers tend to tell us that we are low paid, because we are inexperienced, while we collectively know how this world eats, cries, shits, loves and dies…

The conversations also urged me to write together with my comrades an article about family and living arrangements. Of 50 or so blokes I spoke to, only three or four still lived with the mother of their kids. Few of them have injunctions for domestic violence. Some of them said that the mother ‘found a better paid bloke’. Many of them share rooms or flats with other badly paid men. Many of them send money home to their families abroad. There is little bourgeois integration, the family is something that has failed, the job doesn’t offer personal or material progress. All this asks for outlets. People drink too much and do drugs. People try to make sense of an offensive world in a situation where they, as workers in a bigger workplace, as workers in a ‘foreign country’ are in a defensive position. In particular after the Paris attacks many workers voiced some Islamophobic bull crap, but racism in general targets ‘an abstract public’, while there are only few comments directly targeting colleagues or people living in the area. Only few workers are religious (Christian) in an open or organised way. People don’t trust politics. There was only one worker, an older permanent worker, who was quite explicitly and elaborately right-wing. Maybe he is a representative of the type of right-wing positions amongst (white?) British workers.

He is very anti-American and he thinks that England should never have gotten involved in the wars in the Middle East. He hates ‘the dictatorship of political correctness’ and ‘multiculturalism’, which he sees as propaganda to undermine the position of the local working class and industry. He loves Lady Di, but doesn’t like the Queen. He is in the GMB trade union and supports the striking junior doctors. He talks about the necessity of a general strike. He stopped voting for Labour with Blair. He says the NHS is wrecked by migrants who don’t pay and fat cats. He says that this island is too small for so many people from abroad. England pays too much for the development of other countries, while local poor people are neglected. He is for the exit from the EU, though he himself worked in Australia for several years. His father was poor, but became a rich man through tinkering and car chauffeur services. He talks shit about the Nordic heritage of England, though he said that he loved the people while on holiday in Jamaica and Singapore. He thinks family life and friends are most important. He stopped believing in God. He says that there will be an uprising against the system, but he means the protests of the right-wing like Pegida or the fascists in Hungary. He is informed about the far right in the UK and Europe, although he says that he is not directly organised. He wants to leave the job and London and live in the countryside, being self-employed as a driver. He is mainly seen as a joker, who makes fun of everyone and himself, often alluding to some ‘English-ness’. He is not disliked as a colleague. He has good personal relations with the English managers.

* It’s all rubbish - The small conflicts

The workload is definitely high and has been increasing over the years. You are supposed to complete more streets. Managers and supervisors turn up at least twice a day to see how you and your crew are getting on with the work. If you finish your street map too early, you run the risk of getting extra work. If you are too slow, you might get a disciplinary meeting. The bigger vans are equipped with GPS signallers, so management knows whereabouts you are parked up. During the leafing season workers at the weigh bridge of the rubbish tip are supposed to inform management if people other than the driver are in the truck - the sweepers are supposed to be sweeping, not driving around with the driver. Some colleagues bow to the pressure and work too fast, complaining about other workers when they don’t do the same.

During leafing season they took on 30 to 40 extra sweepers. These guys had to compete for the jobs, as only five or so workers were taken on after the leafing peak season was over. Workers were only told on their last day whether they would be taken on or not, which made it difficult to find a new job in time. Some workers come in in the morning and are not given work. They wait around and see if any permanents don’t show up, if not, they are sent home unpaid. People have the carrot of a permanent position dangling, but only few are taken on, often only after years. Wages are supposed to increase after 12 weeks, but most workers have to remind management several times in order to get the increase. The same is true for the pay increase once you are taken on as a driver. Overtime is paid late. Management blames the fact that the agency payslips are processed in India for the fact that there are so many mistakes. Many guys are tested for alcohol and weed and get the sack - people say that tests are arbitrary. While insisting on health and safety verbally, some guys were sent on recycling trucks without a proper induction.

A certain competition for jobs and permanent jobs and the fact that many workers don’t see too much of a future in the job might explain that collective steps of resistance are rare. People are sent from one team to the other, from one driver to the other on a daily basis. The big test, whether people are up for a collective response was the announcement of job cuts and restructuring.

* Bin it! - The Restructuring, Leaflets and GMB meeting

In mid 2015 the word went round that Ealing council and Amey wanted to introduce wheelie bins in Ealing. Currently three to four people work on a refuse truck doing manual/road-side loading (black plastic backs), while it would need only two people after the shift to wheelie bins. Around 12 out of 40 trucks would become superfluous and around 60 refuse workers redundant. Management claimed that it would also affect the street cleaners, because there would be less mess on the street compared to manual collecting. In total 80 people were to go. In order to back up their logic with additional arguments Amey management claims that the company makes an annual loss of £4 to 8 million on the Ealing contract - while the contract runs at least till 2019 before a review takes place. These words lingered around for a while, without concrete confirmation. We decided to distribute a leaflet, raising both the issue of low pay and threat of redundancies. The week before we were about to distribute the GMB union called for a meeting. Most workers assumed automatically that the meeting was only for the full-time permanent staff. We changed the leaflet slightly and tried to set the temp workers issue on the agenda - see first leaflet below.


Greenford Depot Calling!

Re-shuffling the refuse trucks, job insecurity for the agency staff, low pay for loaders and drivers…
... there are a lot of common problems to talk about at the union meeting!

The Greenford street cleansing, recycling and refuse depot has been passed on from company to company and things are still pretty rubbish:

* there's been talk about possible changes from manual refuse loading to bin collection but no one seems to know what will happen to the dozens of our jobs affected

* people are on agency contracts for two, three years and management keeps the carrot and stick hanging over our heads

* many agency staff don’t get regular shifts, although their landlord is demanding regular rent payments; this insecurity leads to stress and tension

* overall workload is constantly increasing, wages don’t;

* Ealing Council boasts about being a ‘Living Wage Council', but council streets are cleaned and council refuse is collected for as little as £6.70 (or £7.41 after 12 weeks); in other London boroughs agency sweepers and loaders are paid £9.25 for the same work.

Everybody moans, but many bow their head. Some refuse full-timers might say, "Why should I give a toss about the low paid agency staff?", while some temp sweepers might say "Why should I bother about the refuse loaders, they are pampered anyway". Let's make the current issue about the refuse trucks a common issue about pay and conditions for all!


Friends distributed about 120 leaflets in total at the depot. One man complained about lots of bullying going on inside. He said that when he's taken one day off sick, he'd been hauled into a disciplinary meeting. Some people immediately said it didn't concern them because they were agency staff. People seemed most interested in the fact that sweepers in other boroughs were getting more money than them. A manager came out quite early on asking if we thought it was “prudent” to be giving this leaflet out! He asked what organisation we were from, that we should go through the unions and that we were causing the men to be upset! At work people mainly referred to the info about pay conditions at other depots. They didn’t discuss the issue, whether temps can also fight for their jobs or not. People circulated the leaflet, someone put it up at the main coffee vending machine.

Then the GMB meetings took place, sweepers, recycling and refuse gathering separately. As far as I know none of the temp workers came to the union meeting, neither were they directly encouraged to come. Around half of the permanent workers attended. The external GMB full-timer started by saying that there was not too much to announce and that “he does not know why ’they’ asked me to come and hold the meeting’, referring to management! He then said that no changes would happen before 6th of June 2016, though a supervisor later on said that after the union meeting a management meeting took place where it was announced that changes will happen before the 6th, but it was not specified as to what these changes would be.The GMB official also mentioned that Amey makes £8 million loss each year (good start!). He said that he was in talks with the councillors and management; the GMB official said that there will be a period of re-evaluation, to see how things change after the introduction of the bins; he promoted the idea that ‘all workers should be able to work all jobs’, meaning, sweeping, recycling, refuse “apart from those who can’t hack it’; this is his offer to keep sweepers on board, by making them potentially available for refuse collection. He continued: “let the refuse people go, I have a list of 60 people who want to take redundancies”, he then calculated the redundancy packages. He claimed that you have to be over 55 and working for more than 20 years in the company to get a good package (a guy who is over 55 and worked at the depot for 27 years was said he will get £14,000). Only two sweepers present had worked there for more than 20 years. A colleague who worked 6 years and who is 52 years of age would get £1,800. The GMB rep therefore advised that people should stay on the job “what else would you do, stack shelves at Tescos?!” (they would probably get more money there anyway, he seemed stuck in the 1980s or something). The main problematic thing is that on one hand he says that the labour market outside is bad, but he seems perfectly fine with 60 to 70 (or more) job cuts, once people get a ‘good’ (sic!) pay out. The GMB follows the same line at the current redundancy dispute at Bakkavor ready-meal factory in Park Royal. He did not mention and no one asked about job losses for temps.

Later on some temps asked about the meeting, but they were mainly interested in whether ‘wage increases’ were discussed. Three permanents who had been at the meeting said that “the union is useless; it is the management and council who dictates, but it should be the union”; one of them talked about going on strike, but he is old, half-deaf and semi-retired. At least amongst the sweepers there was not much discussed about the whole issue. Management then send out letter to all permanents, saying that job redundancies are coming and they invited all full-time staff to a meeting - it is unclear whether the union was part of this meeting or not. We decided to distribute a second leaflet at the day of the company meeting, drawing some conclusions from the previous union meeting - see second leaflet below.


No to job cuts! - Thoughts after the union meeting in February at Greenford Depot

* It is a shame that none of the agency colleagues came to the union meeting. Possible redundancies and changes will hit you first. Just because you have a different contract does not mean that you cannot fight for your jobs and for better conditions.

* Fighting pays: Recycling workers, outsourced to Kier Ltd in Somerset Council, have been getting paid £2/hour less than other workers doing a similar job a few miles away. So they've been working to rule, refusing overtime and have taken several days of all out strike action. Kier have backed down in January 2016. An 18% pay rise over three years, front loaded. Everyone will now be paid above a Living Wage.

* Amey announced job cuts. We can understand that older colleagues want to take redundancy pay and get their bones into a dry place, but this cannot mean that we just let these jobs go! As our GMB man said: "it is tough out there", so we should try to re-fill these jobs, otherwise they are lost forever.

* If management says that there is no money for jobs tell them to look in the pockets of Amey/Ferrovial's main shareholder, the del Pinto family, who own cash and shares worth 8.6 billion US-Dollars - which makes them 'only' the 64th richest family in the world.

* It was also said that in future we all have to be more flexible: pushing the broom one week, loading on the dust car the following week. Fair enough for people who want to do that, but it should not be compulsory.

* A lot of guys say that the union is too cosy and that it accepts everything management and councillors tell them. Again, fair enough. But then it is up to us to do what we think is right and necessary, just complaining won't cut it.

* The next union meeting will be a chance to bring stuff forward and to include the concerns of the agency colleagues. If that takes to long you will have to call for an earlier meeting. Discuss it! If you decide to fight back together - temps and full-timers united - against job cuts and for better pay then you have a good chance to get the support of workers in London and beyond.



Again, some individual good discussions with people during distribution. Management came out and threatened friends with security and police if they didn’t move further away from the depot gate. In general, we think that the GMB will be happy if people take redundancies. We doubt that the temps will get together and say that they don’t give a shit about contracts and that they want job security. We tried to raise the issue within the small circles of the west London left and proposed a bit of a campaign. We gonna stay tuned and ready for action…


* Some company websites


* A good overview on refuse council contracts


* Link to our previous article on trade union experiences in West London


* Report on conditions in Hackney

“The first time I worked for the council, between 2007 and 2010, agency were on the minimum wage - £5.35 in 2006 to £5.93 in late 2010. The agency workers could be divided between those who had permanent beats and thus got your full 36 hours a week, and those who were filling in for sickness and holiday. If you were filling in, you would show up at the depot in the morning and wait to take jobs as they came up. Some times there would not be enough work and the newer/less favoured agency would be sent home. Agency were not given uniforms to begin with, only gloves and high vis vests, but by the time I became permanent (2009ish I think) the council had started issuing us overalls at least, but not boots, waterproofs or winter coats. It took me two years to get a permanent job, and this was not uncommon. I have never heard of an agency worker who got a permanent job before six months, and I know one agency worker who has worked for Hackney for 12 years. As a permanent sweeper, I think I was earning at least £19,000 a year, including a weekly performance bonus that I never understood and weekly attendance bonus that you got for not missing a day/showing up overly late in a week. Loaders on the caged vehicles counted as sweepers and received the same pay.

On my current stint working for Hackney, summer of 2013 onwards, agency workers, sweepers and dustmen are all paid the London living wage; £9.15 an hour/£17,100ish a year. This is a £2000 reduction for a starting permanent road sweeper, more for a dustman, but permanent staff receive pay rises on this the longer they work for the council that take them back up to somewhere near the old pay rate minus the bonuses, which were scrapped, and at the time of the equalisation these rises where applied retroactively, so the cut to the pay of many of the existing workers was not as severe as new starters. Long serving agency also now get full uniform from the council, although there is still a two tire system of fill in agency staff who may or may not get work, and full time agency with a permanent beat or vehicle, and many of the fill ins only get overalls.

Due to the nature of the work, it is fairly hard for the management to keep tabs on its sweepers, who are spread out across the borough and constantly moving, but there has been a shift in the culture of management between the two periods I have worked for the council. During my first stint, management seemed to mostly accept its limitations and only interfere with the operations of its workers when it had to. Now the management is much more likely to try and micro manage, and give nonsensical orders. This is partly due to attempts to hit targets, I.e. complaints must be dealt with in a certain time, so you are often ordered to drop what you are doing and deal with it, no matter how much this disrupts the overall quality of your work. This is also partly down to the managements attempts to rationalise the job, I.e. you should always use THIS broom in THIS circumstance, leading to management trying to enforce work procedures regardless of there actual practicality. Lastly this is down to the fact that management is more detached from its workforce, they spend more time in the office and less on the streets, and the chargehands that used to be lorry drivers with some supervisory duties and now full managerial staff. They have not managed to extract any more labour from their sweepers, but in the attempt to look like they have, they have made the job more annoying, random and fiddly.”

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Mar 8 2016 20:03


  • Workers have studied agriculture in Zimbabwe, ran coffee bars in Sao Paolo, ploughed fields in Nepal and Punjab, hustled in Cape Town, studied economics in Bratislava, lived in spiritual communes in Devon...

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