Workplace Report (November 2021)

Bargaining news

Industrial action at Clarks

In October, workers at the high street shoe brand Clarks began industrial action in a dispute over the company’s plans to fire and rehire workers on less favourable contracts.

Some 88% of staff at the company’s headquarters in Street, Somerset, voted in favour of industrial action. The reduction of terms and conditions at Clarks UK is primarily targeted at legacy members of staff, who were employees before LionRock became majority shareholder in March 2021. Clarks UK had been in discussions with unions on terms but failed to reach an agreement.

The company pushed for their employees to accept far-reaching reduced conditions, with everything from a reduction in hourly wage, sick pay and annual holidays, to a removal of 10-minute coffee breaks and complimentary hot drinks.

Roy Rickhuss CBE, general secretary of the Community general union, which represents the workers, said: “We have been incredibly saddened and disappointed by the recent actions of Clarks.

“Clarks is a staple brand on the British high street, with a history dating back over a century. Their roots in their local community go even deeper. There once was a time where Clarks built schools, libraries and theatres for their workers and their families in Somerset.

“This makes their present day actions, following their recent sale to LionRock Capital, all the more dispiriting.”

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