Ten individuals give personal and sometimes moving accounts of warehouse and food factory work, and reflect on their creative lives within and beyond the workplace. Their stories reveal some of the harsh employment conditions in contemporary capitalist workplaces in these sectors, and confirm the power inequalities inherent in them. Three of the narrators also look back to earlier decades, remembering their working experiences in food production.
A great deal, like repetitive work, uncertain hours and easy dismissal, has stayed the same. But, taken together, the films evoke a story of how workplace experiences have changed over a forty-year period with intensified pressure on agency workers in warehouses through higher productivity targets, longer distances to cover each day, and computerised policing of breaks.
The films explore workplace experiences within people’s wide-ranging stories, enabling the person at the heart of each story to choose how to narrate their place within it. Each narrator reflects on matters of importance to them beyond work and management regimes, such as their creative lives and their relationships with other people.
Using multiple and varied narratives, the films disrupt taken-for-granted and common sense categories often used to stereotype people such as ‘factory workers’, ‘warehouse workers’ or ‘migrants’. Perhaps there is a solidarity to be found in this that may one day bring about a challenge to oppressive workplace conditions.
Director: Jay Gearing (Red7 Productions)
Producers: Jay Gearing and Ben Rogaly
Researcher: Ben Rogaly (Sussex University)