Employees at iconic shoe firm Clarks have today began industrial action in a dispute over fire-and-rehire.
88% of staff voted in favour of industrial action. The reduction of terms & conditions at Clarks UK is primarily targeted at legacy members of staff, who were employees before Lion Rock became majority shareholder in March 2021. Clarks UK had been in discussions with unions on terms but failed to reach an agreement.
The company pushed for their employees to accept far-reaching reduced conditions, with everything from a reduction in hourly wage, sick pay and annual holidays, to a removal of 10-minute coffee breaks and complimentary hot drinks.
Roy Rickhuss CBE, General Secretary of the trade union representing the workers Community, 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.
Clarks is a staple brand on the British high street, with a history dating back over a century. Their roots in their local community go even deeper. There once was a time where Clarks built schools, libraries and theatres for their workers and their families in Somerset.
Clarks is a company built by, for and with the people of Street. The proud legacy of the company can be found across the town. This makes their present day actions, following their recent sale to LionRock Capital, all the more dispiriting.
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.
We urge Clarks to call off the diminishing of terms and conditions and reconsider this move. We remain ready and waiting for productive discussions on how we can succeed together going forward when they are.”
Fire and rehire, whilst legal, is a hugely controversial practice condemned across the political spectrum. Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset, recently said the tactics “shame businesses”.
Keir Starmer has previously called for fire and rehire to be outlawed. During the pandemic, The TUC calculated one in 10 workers (three million people) were threatened with the sack unless they accepted changes to their pay or conditions.
To support the workers at Clarks and call for an end to fire-and-rehire, click here.
If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.