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21 Sep 2021

Jamie Jones, Somerset's County Gazette

UK: Workers at Clarks' distribution centre vote to strike over 'fire and rehire' plans

"Industrial action vote over Clarks' 'fire and rehire", 21 September 2021

UNION members at a Clarks distribution centre in Somerset have voted to go on strike over controversial 'fire and rehire' tactics...

The...Somerset firm... has been consulting employees over new contract proposals, dubbed 'fire and rehire' tactics by unions.

The change would see workers' contracts changed, altering rates of pay for some.

If they fail to accept the changes, they would lose their jobs, or they agree to them and are 'rehired'...

...some staff at the Clarks distribution centre...have now voted to take industrial action...

A Clarks spokesperson said: “At our Westway Distribution Centre we continue to consult with employees on proposed changes to employment terms and conditions for all Operatives.

"It is crucial that Clarks achieves sustainable employment costs, but it is equally fundamental that it achieves fairness between its Distribution Operatives, where differences in hourly rates of pay currently exist.

"As the consultation process is ongoing, we are disappointed that some employees have voted in favour of industrial action.

"Right from the start, Clarks has taken a constructive and collaborative approach, seeking to reach a compromise and avoid the need to terminate contracts on current terms and offer re-engagement on new terms, which the company has always regarded as the very last resort...

Unite regional officer, Gareth Lowe, said in July: “Our members are rightly angry at the employer’s threats to fire and re-hire which will cause a dramatic fall in their terms and conditions...

“We urge Clarks to drop its unnecessary plans to hack at the terms and conditions of its loyal and dedicated staff.”