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Leeds team at the LERA conference in New York City

Charles Umney and Abbie Winton presented a paper entitled “How does the local state shape the relationship between technological change and work? Evidence from UK warehousing” (authors Winton, Umney, Alberti). This paper is based on discussions with stakeholders undertaken as part of our preparations for the third HuLog Work Package. In it, we examine the role of local government in intermediating the effects of technological change on warehousing work. This is interesting because local government is increasingly identified by many authors as a source of progressive change in industrial relations systems, yet it’s potential role in shaping technological trajectories at work is weakly understood. We show that local government is often conflicted, with reservations about warehousing as a source of jobs, and often a desire to regulate to support job quality. However, they generally lack the institutional and planning capacity to intervene to support job quality in warehousing work. We conclude by arguing for stronger planning tools to support the development of an industrial strategy which centres job quality at local level.