Strike at Clarks in Street

Today was the second day of strike action at Clarks in Street. 88% of staff had voted in favour of industrial action. Mendip Trades Union Council claim 100-odd workers at the boot and shoe warehouse are on strike. Today pickets and banners appeared at the roundabout opposite McDonalds.

Community general secretary Roy Rickhuss CBE said: “We have been incredibly saddened and disappointed by the recent actions of Clarks, and our members have been left with no other choice but to vote to take industrial action and go on strike. Fire-and-rehire is no way to thank your employees or your customers. The workers most adversely impacted by these changes are those who have been employees for decades, sticking with the company through thick and thin, stepping up in the last year during the challenging pandemic period.”

The strike is over changes to pay and conditions put forward by new owners Lion Rock Capital. The Hong Kong based business is engaging in what the Community Union describe as fire and rehire practices. This is where a company seeks to change working conditions and pay levels. This is done by terminating your existing employment contract and immediately rehiring you under a new contract.

Mendip Trades Union Council state that the Clarks warehouse workers, face a cut in pay of 15%. The Community Union claim they face the following threats:

  • 1. An average reduction in pay of £1.66 per hour: from the current £11.16p to £9.50p;
  • 2. An increase in working hours of 2.5 per week, due to paid 30-minute meal breaks being abolished;
  • 3. No pay rise for at least four years
  • 4. Drastic cuts in sick pay: from 13 weeks full pay to 6 weeks full pay and 6 weeks half pay; abolition of sick pay for the first day of absence; no sick pay entitlement from day one of employment, only after 6 months;
  • 5. The abolition of a daily ten-minute coffee break, brought in at the company’s request to ease warehouse operations;
  • 6. A drastic reduction in redundancy entitlements: from enhanced double statutory, to statutory, ie, one week’s wages per year of service), raising fears that the company will get rid of workers, get rid of workers, even close the Street Distribution Centre, just as they are closing their distribution centre in Kendal.  
  • 7. Cuts to overtime rates to regular time rates

2 comments

  • Has anyone worked with the Chinese before? I have. They are ruthless in business – and I am sure will have no time at all for British ‘strikes’. Instead of fire & rehire they will probably just leave it at fire I’m afraid. Or worse – move the business to China where labour is cheap.

  • Sadly this is usually what happens when overseas owners and venture capitalists take over. Look at what happened at Cadburys. Only last week a US company took over a UK software company and said that there would be UK redundancies. I expect the same to happen at Morrisons – redundancies and cuts to pay and benefits will ensue as the company is now loaded with debt and the new owners will squeeze the company in every way.

    My sympathies lie with the Clark’s staff.

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