Clarks workers plan “Day of Action”

Striking warehouse workers at Street company Clark’s plan a Day of Action for tomorrow, Saturday 13 November. The striking workers, their families and their supporters will march through the iconic Clarks Village.

They are protesting about the use of fire-and-rehire by Clarks management led by Lion Rock Capital. The company, founded by two Quaker brothers had a long tradition of taking good care of their workforce.

Dave Chapple, Secretary of the Mendip Trades Union Council explains: “Hong-Kong-based Lion Rock Capital, are firing and rehiring all its warehouse workers. Imposing a wage cut from £11.16p an hour to the (soon to become) minimum wage of £9.50p an hour. there will be other drastic cuts to nearly all paid allowances. Oh yes, workers have also lost their paid meals breaks. They will be forced to work a 42.5 hour week instead of the current 40!

That was two days ago. Since then Clark’s management claim they have offered to increase pay for all Westway employees by 5.6% to £10.03 per hour. This was in recognition of the Government’s recent announcement on National Minimum Wage increases.

Meanwhile the Community Union which represents many of the warehouse workers is unhappy. They claim that Clark’s are using agency workers to help break the strike. The company deny the claims and have countered that the union are intimidating workers who are going in to work. The company claim over half the warehouse workers have accepted their new terms.

Roy Rickhuss CBE, General Secretary of Community, says the strikers have strong support: “Over the past month, workers at Clarks have been overwhelmed by the outpouring support that people from across the country have given them. Fire-and-rehire is cruel and wrong, and everyone is aware of this. Sadly, this has lead to no progress with Clarks and their plans will be continuing.”

The striking warehouse workers began their action on 4 October. They have maintained a regular picket at the entrance to the warehouse on the roundabout on Westway opposite Sainsburys. And Dave Chapple says support for the Day of Action is growing. “Delegations are travelling from South Wales steel workers and Manchester factory workers, all Community union members. There are hopes that a substantial number of retired Clarks workers will join in. Thousands of whom actually made shoes decades ago before all the Somerset factories were closed. Even the Quaker Journal “The Friend” is set to carry an article about the dispute. This will be the largest and most impressive show of trade union and working-class solidarity in the county of Somerset for decades. You would have to go back to the march against the closure of Westlands helicopters in Weston-super-Mare in the late 1980s to find another like it.”


2 comments

  • So sad to see a good ol’ British strike in Somerset – up against Chinese owners. Not a hope. They’ll just take the business to another cheaper labour country. Chinese business is ruthless – and with zero tolerance.

  • We are walking through the high street, NOT THROUGH Clark’s village!! We have not and will not intimidate anyone who wishes to cross the picket line.

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