Sabotage in a food factory

A short account of a brief and minor rebellion of three bottle stackers, by Patrick, a palletizer.

Submitted by libcom on December 30, 2005

I worked in a food production factory that made thousands of bottles of warm goo a day. I stood at the end of a conveyer belt where boxes with a dozen bottles of this warm crap came whizzing down to me, about one per second. I would stack them on pallets and the forklift driver would take them away. Occasionally, when we got a major shipment of boxes with plastic bottles for the front end of the assembly line, the foreman would take me and a few others off the line and send us upstairs to the old wooden storeroom. The boxes would come up on a conveyor belt to us, where we would stack them on the floor.

One day we were called to unload a major shipment. The boxes were coming at us at an alarming rate. Me and two co-workers were running like fools, arms stretched wide, grasping these boxes. We would have to run them over to where they were being stacked on the far side of the wall. It was sweltering hot up in the attic storeroom of this antiquated old factory. We were sweating and running with these boxes, squeezing tight so the middle ones wouldn't fall out. The conveyor belt was crammed with boxes. The foreman, a despicable Marine sergeant type, sat on a stack of boxes and picked his teeth, chiding us to go faster. If one of us fell behind the others, he'd call us "pussy" or some other insult sure to drive us into a working frenzy.

There was no let-up in boxes, and with sweat dripping into our eyes and cardboard dust irritating our skin, the three of us exploded into open revolt. Tim punched a box off the conveyor belt, and in a matter of seconds, we were punching them all off the belt. Boxes and plastic bottles were flying all over the floor. As the boxes kept coming from below, we kept punching them off. One after the other in a wild, deliriously happy frenzy. We ran to the stacks of boxes and started pulling them down with a dull crash onto the old wooden floor. The foreman was grabbing at our arms, trying to stop us, hollering as loud as he could over the din of the boxes and conveyor motor.

Finally, with big sheepish grins on our faces, we stopped. The boxes had stopped. The foreman told us to take the day off, to go home. The next day we came to work as if nothing had happened. I took my place on the line. The boxes of warm crap came whizzing down to me, about one per second...

This is an edited extract from Sabotage in the American Workplace by Martin Sprouse taken from

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