In many ways, the warehouse sector could stand as an exemplar for an analysis of the challenges facing workers across the overall labour market in Canada.
Warehouse workers are enduring some of the worst impacts of the new economy’s relentless push for higher profits and a more “flexible” workforce. They are feeling over-worked, underpaid, vulnerable, and unsafe on the job, and the list of causes is long: concerns about workplace health and safety; increasing workload and the demand for ever-higher productivity; the rise of automation and technological change and their impacts on employment; the challenge of job ownership and the notion of pride in work; problems with work/life balance; the lack of stable, permanent and full-time work; low wages and inadequate benefits; low union density and minimal sector-wide coordination; and sub-contracting and contract-flipping.
While every workplace experiences different shop floor issues, there are some very common challenges faced by workers across the warehouse sector. In this section, we will explore some of the key challenges we heard directly from warehouse workers themselves.