1. News
July 2, 2021

Clarks workers plan strike action over fire-and-rehire practice

Hong Kong-based private equity firm LionRock Capital acquired a 51% majority stake in Clarks earlier this year.

Employees of British footwear retailer Clarks are reportedly planning to launch strike action over the company’s fire-and-rehire practice.

The BBC reported that the action could involve more than 100 workers at Clarks’ warehouse in Somerset, which currently employs 145 people.

Of the employees at the warehouse, 109 are on contracts signed before the company was taken over by Hong Kong-based private equity firm LionRock Capital in February.

Clarks is said to be forcing them to accept a new contract, which is thought to be less generous than their current contract.

The new contract is said to reduce pay by around 15%, provide three fewer days’ holiday and worse sickness terms, and remove the offer of ten-minute breaks and complimentary hot drinks.

A spokesperson for Clarks said: “Clarks is currently consulting with unions and employees at our Westway Distribution Centre in Street, Somerset, on proposed changes to employment terms and conditions for all operatives.

“As we are in a period of consultation, we are unable to comment any further at this time.”

British trade union Community is representing the employees involved in the strike.

Community assistant general secretary John Paul McHugh said: “The workers most adversely impacted by these changes are those who have been employees for decades, sticking with the company through thick and thin, stepping up in the last year during the challenging pandemic period.

“Fire-and-rehire is no way to thank your employees or your customers. We ask Clarks to call off the diminishing of terms and conditions.”

Earlier this year, Amazon workers in Germany staged a four-day strike intended to make the e-commerce giant acknowledge collective bargaining agreements.

The strike, which affected Amazon sites in Rheinberg, Werne, Koblenz, Leipzig and Bad Hersfeld, was organised by German trade union ver.di.

ver.di said that the German Trade Association’s (HDE) accepting Amazon as a member without tariff binding had caused ‘wage dumping’ and the ‘displacement and extermination’ of competition.