Getting the goods: Trade unions and the strategy in the quick-commerce sector

Steve Rolf, Wil Hunt and Rachel Verdin (2023), FEPS Policy Study

The rise of quick-commerce (q-commerce) platforms has reshaped the retail industry, posing new challenges for trade unions.

This policy study examines q-commerce, which promises super-fast delivery of groceries, often under 30 minutes, and its potential threats to established collective bargaining patterns and trade union strongholds in bricks-and-mortar retail.

Drawing on desk research and in-depth qualitative interviews with a range of experts, industry stakeholders, and q-commerce workers in four firms across three countries (Germany, Spain and the UK), this policy study contextualises the rise of q-commerce, before considering how trade unions could react to its emergence at a macro- and workplace level.

The authors outline a critical power resources approach (PRA) framework to adjudicate the potential for organising in q-commerce, given the structure of the industry and its labour markets. The study also maps out the structural, associational, institutional, and societal power resources available to q-commerce workers and unions.

Despite turbulent business dynamics, some variants of q-commerce will likely continue, and unions should devote efforts and resources to organising q-commerce for the protection of workers and to ensure q-commerce firms do not undermine the conditions of those working in adjacent retail and logistics industries.

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