Photo story: ‘Serve the people’ - A day in the life of a supermarket delivery driver

Photo story: ‘Serve the people’ - A day in the life of a supermarket delivery driver

Sisters and brothers,

Here are some photos collected over three and a half years working as a delivery driver and loader in west London. The warehouse employs 1,400 people, out of which 600 are drivers. In most cases the work is questionable: bringing shopping to people who think their time is too precious to do the shopping themselves. Of course there are other cases, like nurseries, elderly or disabled people.

Yesterday I phoned a comrade in China who told me that, during the Corona lockdown, most blocks of flats ordered their food and groceries collectively and the supermarket delivery workers were managing to keep everyone supplied. Sometimes common sense solutions emerge in times of crisis, much more sensible than the individualised day-to-day relations of late capitalism.

In any case, the longer report about working and organising in this west London warehouse will feature in our upcoming book ‘Class Power on Zero-Hours’, which can be ordered here:
https://classpower.net/order/

The photo-story is here:
https://angryworkersworld.wordpress.com/2020/03/10/serve-the-people-a-da...

Posted By

AngryWorkersWorld
Mar 10 2020 14:01

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dark_ether
Mar 10 2020 16:13

I find "In most cases the work is questionable: bringing shopping to people who think their time is too precious to do the shopping themselves. Of course there are other cases, like nurseries, elderly or disabled people. " Interesting.

Partly cuz since I moved into my current place (effectively the middle of a large working class housing estate) I've used online ordering for a big monthly shop, and find most people near by do the same. This is less to do with my time (and tbh I find online grocery shopping nearly as time consuming and far more tedious than in person shopping), and more to do with space. That is, there are simply no shops within walkable distance that supply all the necessities, and those that supply some are priced beyond my means, due to the premium placed on goods in smaller 'convenience' stores vs super market. I could make multiple bus trips to shop, but this becomes very expensive in both time and money. I do carry out smaller trips with a massive backpack, but there are limits to how often I can do a half hour walk up hill with a backpack and arms full of shopping! As with a high percentage of the households round here, no one in the house drives.

Partly because in many ways, capitalism forces us to invest in ridiculous 'time saving' technologies. A mixture of 40+ hour weeks, split shifts, irregular work patterns, and all the other issues of precarity endeavour to leave us bereft of time and energy. So are we too 'precious' to wander round the super market ourselves, or to cook our own food from scratch, clean with simple products and 'elbow grease', make our own entertainment, plan events with our neighbours... or are we simply too time pressured and knackered to do anything but order ready meals online, hope the £4 a bottle of harsh chemicals will clear the drains, switch on netflix, and prepare our minds for another daily grind?

AngryWorkersWorld
Mar 11 2020 07:46

Ciao comrade, you are right, there is an inner-city / suburban working class demographic (no car, only smaller expensive supermarkets around) who use online shopping - still, the majority of 'our' customers are offices or middle-class people who earn twice as much as we do. This is a general trend for many personal services. Domestic cleaners don't tend to employ domestic cleaners in their home. Most of our work-mates would not order their shopping online - perhaps apart from an economic question (minimum order, no reduced items etc. if you shop online) also a cultural one. I think in the long run rising rent levels will force supermarkets to close branches, at the same time profit margins are very slim when it comes to home deliveries, I guess they will increase the service charges at some point soon. Anyway, this degenerates a bit into a 'You and Yours'-style consumer comment smile Point 6 in our transitional program is the formation of 200 to 300 people 'domestic units' (which was compared to Khmer Rouge type of politics on this site), all be easier then...!