// Clarks has been accused of using agency workers to cover an ongoing strike in its Somerset warehouse
// It is illegal for an employment agency to supply temporary workers to perform the duties of those who are taking industrial action
Clarks is reportedly in a dispute with a trade union over the alleged use of agency workers to cover strikers at its warehouse in Somerset.
The Community union has complained to government about one case and says it is investigating more as using agency workers to break a strike is against the law.
In response, the retailer says its agency workers are not doing the jobs of strikers, and it has always acted “according to the law”.
It says that while individual agency workers come and go, their total number never exceeds the number employed at the beginning of the strike.
Workers at the Clarks warehouse in Street, Somerset have been on strike for over a month in a dispute over pay and conditions.
A number of employment agencies are advertising positions as warehouse operatives at the site.
It is illegal for an employment agency to supply temporary workers to perform the duties of those who are taking industrial action, says Neil Todd of Thompsons Solicitors.
“Throughout this period of industrial action, Clarks has been acting according to the law. Clarks is not using agency workers to cover employees who are on strike,” the retailer said in a statement.
Community, which represents the striking workers, complained to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about one particular individual.
He was employed as a general worker but was seen on a number of occasions driving a forklift which was usually driven by a worker who was on strike.
The BBC stated that Clarks views this as an isolated operational mistake which senior managers put a stop to as soon as they were made aware.
Clarks says it has shown the union details of the agency workers it is employing to demonstrate that they are operating within the law.
However the union remains unhappy with the use of agency workers at the warehouse.
A spokesperson said: “we are continuing to investigate further wrongdoing and will appeal this with the relevant agencies wherever it may be found.”