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Article

6 Oct 2021

Author:
Jack Colwill, BusinessLive

UK: Clarks' distribution centre workers strike over 'fire and rehire' policy

"Clarks employees strike over 'fire and rehire' policies", 6 October 2021

Workers at...Clarks held a demonstration in Somerset...amid a standoff with the company over its controversial 'fire and rehire' policy.

A group of around 60 staff, who are members of the Community Union, embarked on a demonstration from the company's Westway Distribution Centre in Street...

Mendip Trades Union Council has stated that the terms that were first presented to workers...include an average reduction in pay from £11.16 to £9.50 per hour, the abolition of paid 30-minute meal breaks and daily 10-minute coffee breaks, and cuts in sick pay and redundancy entitlements...

A [Clarks'] spokesperson said: "...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.

"...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.

"We remain hopeful for a constructive conclusion in due course, based on the significant concessions Clarks has made in respect of its proposal of new terms..."

The new terms offered to Westway employees reportedly involve around half of the centre's staff receiving rises in overall pay, and that those subject to a pay reduction will be protected from the effects of this until 2023 by top up payments from the company.

Similar industrial action had been threatened by corporate and management staff at the nearby Clarks headquarters...but these negotiations were a separate matter...

Clarks today confirmed that the staff affected in that branch of its UK operations had not taken industrial action and that 98 percent of staff had agreed to new terms...

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