October 11, 2021
From Socialist Worker (UK)

On the Clarks picket line

On the Clarks picket line (Pic: Bridgwater TUC)

Around 100 Clarks workers, members of the Community union, at the boot and shoe warehouse in Street, Somerset, are facing a bitter battle against fire and rehire.

They struck on 4 October and are continuing the campaign because they face the following threats:

  • An average reduction in pay of £1.66 per hour: from the current £11.16p to £9.50p;
  • An increase in working hours of 2.5 per week, due to paid 30-minute meal breaks being abolished;
  • No pay rise for at least four years, despite the union agreeing to help the company through a “difficult financial spell” by accepting two hours less per week instead of a pay rise on two different occasions and at the company’s proposal.
  • Drastic cuts in sick pay: from 13 weeks full pay to six weeks full pay and six weeks half pay, abolition of sick pay for the first day of absence. And no sick pay entitlement until you have worked six months for the firm.
  • The abolition of a daily ten-minute coffee break, brought inat the company’s request to ease warehouse operations;
  • A drastic reduction in redundancy entitlements: from enhanced double statutory, to statutory—one week’s wages per year of service. This raises fears that the company will get rid of workers, and even close the Street Distribution Centre, just as they are closing their distribution centre in Kendal.
  • Cuts to overtime rates.

Dave Chapple of Mendip Trades Union Council, Somerset, writes, “I have personally, met four Clarks workers who fear losing their homes due to inability to pay rent or mortgage. Some even fear losing contact with their children if they are only able to afford a bedsit or unsuitable accommodation for children.

“Welcome to the ‘Brave New World’ of Clarks’ new owners Lion Rock Capital.

“Venture capitalist, hedge fund capitalist, slash and burn capitalist, just pick your most accurate label.”

Source: Socialistworker.co.uk