This preface to our keygroup conference contribution addresses the problem of collaboration and the autofictions that sustain co-labouring: working together in difficult conditions. It contains three registers of writing. Excerpts of autofictions reveal the slippery implications of contemporary collective labour in UK higher education. Questions punctuate the text to invite the reader into the problematics that sustain our working. Theory through narrative begins to articulate the ways that might enable the support and interest necessary for dignity to be possible at work.