Clarks strike ends as Somerset workers reach deal
Clarks has negotiated a deal to end an eight-week strike at its warehouse in Somerset. The UK footwear manufacturer/retailer has settled a dispute with around 100 workers over a controversial ‘fire and rehire’ plan.
It involved workers signing new contracts that would have worsened pay and conditions for long-standing employees, while delivering a pay rise for more recent hires, the union said.
Staff at the warehouse have been on strike since 4 October, saying Clarks had been seeking to cut their wages by almost 15% to £9.50 an hour.
However, the deal will ensure that no members of the Community union earn less at the footwear maker.
A joint statement welcomed a resolution that "works in everybody's interests" and "protects Community members' livelihoods.”
"Following an indicative ballot of Community members it is confirmed that normal working has resumed," the joint statement said.
The strike’s timing coincided with wider supply chain issues for the retail industry, so its resolution must come as a great relief to the business.
Clarks had already endured a tough pandemic alongside many others in the footwear sector. The company’s sales plummeted 44% in the 12 months to January 2021 and its losses reached £172 million.
Last month, Clarks temporary CEO Victor Herrero stood down from the role to take on wider responsibilities at Hong Kong-based parent company LionRock Capital. He was replaced by current chairman Johnny Chen while a permanent CEO is sought.
The Clark family sold a majority stake to LionRock for £100 million, relinquishing control of the firm for the first time in nearly 200 years.
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