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Work and employment in distribution and exchange : moments in the circuit of capital

Newsome, Kirsty (2010) Work and employment in distribution and exchange : moments in the circuit of capital. Industrial Relations Journal, 41 (3). pp. 190-205. ISSN 0019-8692

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This article examines the ‘politics of production’ within grocery warehousing and distribution. In doing so, it highlights the complex linkages between logistics companies and their dominant supermarket customers. Building on the work of Glucksmann and the notion of the ‘total social organisation of labour’, the article reveals how an understanding of employment change within grocery distribution necessarily involves mapping these linkages, thereby examining how they impact on the labour process. Drawing on case-study evidence from two third-party grocery distribution companies, it examines empirically the nature of the linkages between these organisations and their effects on the labour process. It also explores the extent to which organised labour within these interconnected distribution companies is able to mediate and re-shape the requirements placed upon them by their customers. It concludes by highlighting how the power of the retailers and the corresponding ‘logistics revolution’ has reshaped the politics of production. In addition, it calls for an understanding of work and employment in warehousing and distribution, which engages with the complex articulation between production, distribution and exchange.