Clarks UK will in the next few days be filing to begin the process of reducing the terms and conditions for over 100 employees at their Westway Distribution Centre in Street, Somerset after negotiations on new terms broke down.
The move comes only a few months after British Gas engaged in a similar process, more commonly known as “fire and rehire”.
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 have 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.
John Paul McHugh, Assistant General Secretary from the trade union representing the employees Community, says:
“We are incredibly disappointed by the actions of Clarks, and for both their workers and their customers we strongly urge them to come back around the table and reach a solution.
Clarks is a staple brand on the British high street, with a history dating back over a century. Many children will be able to remember being taken to Clarks for their school shoes. Their customers have frequently rewarded them with loyalty.
So too have their workforce. 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.
Fire-and-rehire is no way to thank your employees or your customers. We ask Clarks to call off the diminishing of terms and conditions and say that we are ready and waiting for productive discussions on how we can succeed together going forward when they are. “
Andy McDonald, Shadow Secretary of State for Employment Rights and Protections, says:
“The Government’s failure to ban fire and rehire has caused this disgraceful practice to spread like wildfire, impacting 1 in 10 workers since the start of the pandemic.
Clarks and other employers should halt the use of fire and rehire, and the Government must urgently ban these bullying tactics to prevent workers being forced onto lower pay and worse terms and conditions.”
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