// Over 100 Clarks employees in Somerset are in their 2nd week of strike action over the retailer’s ‘fire and rehire’ policy
// The retailer has also reportedly changed conditions around sick pay and redundancy.
A strike is continuing at the Clarks warehouse in Somerset with workers saying the retailer wants to fire and rehire them on contracts that will reduce their pay and worsen their conditions.
The business says the changes are being made to secure the future of the company after it was hit hard by the pandemic as well as ensuring “fairness” for its employees.
But some staff disagree with proposed changes to staff pay – saying it should not be reduced for people who have worked at the warehouse for many years.
The strike began on October 4, when over 100 workers walked out of the Westway warehouse used by Clarks.
The retailer has also reportedly changed conditions around sick pay and redundancy.
Clarks’ was taken over by Hong Kong-based private equity firm LionRock Capital in March this year, and the company’s new approach of dismissing staff and renegotiating new contracts with them has been widely criticised.
A spokesperson told the BBC: “Westway has a two-tier workforce with staff doing the same jobs working side by side on different rates of pay and terms.”
The striking workers say that those on lower rates should have their money increased to match those on better terms.
However the spokesperson added: “Those employed many years ago have significantly better terms than their colleagues which is unsustainable for us.”
The fire and rehire approach has been taken by a number of UK retailers in recent years — especially in the light of the pandemic and has attracted plenty of adverse publicity.
The UK government has said it disagrees with the approach but it hasn’t introduced any legislation to outlaw it.