‘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/

1yardmorning

Early bird… the first drivers leave the yard at 5am…

2poppy

If you are unlucky you have to drive a van with questionable messages…

3sorrywemissed

Behind the sun visor you find the staple equipment of any delivery driver…

4tescoforlife

Behind the sun visor you find the common feeling of any delivery driver…

5A40morning

The most common location of any delivery driver is in traffic…

6hallway

We deliver to posher people…

7hallway2

And not so posh people…

8customer

We deliver to many people who have given up on life…

9accident

Driving in London: accidents, pollution, 6 miles per hour average speed…

10cars

But cars are still the prime commodity of world capitalism…

11neverbedefeated

But then there are always glimpses of hope on the way…

11tiger

Or just random things…

12sdsfuckup

Never trust the GPS…

13countryroad

It will take you for a leafy ride sometimes though…

13police

The temptation of driving an insured corporate van…

14foreignoffice

One day I had to deliver to the Foreign Office…

15pickettweet

But the cleaners were on strike…

16picket

It made my day to refuse to cross the picket-line…

17yardrain

After your first round you come back to the yard…

18agencyclock

On a short shift you clock out…

18canteenpingpong

Otherwise you watch mates playing ping-pong in the canteen…

19wildworkersasleep

Or falling asleep over our newspaper WorkerWildWest (probably the article on ‘crisis’ did it)…

20payreview

You walk past the Tesco/USDAW announcement (in the small print: we give you an ‘increase’, but cut your annual bonus)…

21union2

You walk past the union reps (you will read more about their career in our book!)…

22union

You remember that you became a union rep, because you sometimes actually have a chance to talk to people…

23safety

This sign reminds you about the limits of union power…

24adm

Perhaps because this is what they discuss at their annual delegate meeting (full story in the book, of course)…

25managementboard

Management also reminds you of the important things in life…

25socialclub

That in the end they think a little bread and a few games will keep us going…

26warehousebird

The day manager sends you picking…

27trolleys

Grab your trolley…

28pickchill

Grab your pick-stick…

29pickloo

And pick the essential things of life…

30pick copy

Did you ever have a nightmare/ supermarket sweep fantasy of being locked in a supermarket overnight?

31pick

But then there are always your colleagues for a laugh…

32loaders

And the loaders to hang with, they don’t take no shit…

32wetreatpeople

The bosses must think we are masochists…

33helloween

Our work is seasonal…

34corona

Which became clear during the onset of Corona-fever in the UK…

35heavy_van

Vans full of handwash and canned food…

36night

Out on the last round…

37vannight

Some estate near White City…

38yardnight

The last drivers come back to the yard around midnight… and on and on, the struggle continues!

2 thoughts on “‘Serve the people’ – A day in the life of a supermarket delivery driver

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