Somerset based shoe giant Clarks has agreed to a deal with workers to end an eight-week strike at its main warehouse.

Staff – who include several from the Burnham-On-Sea area – have been demonstrating outside the factory in Street in a row over pay and conditions.

The retailer had wanted employees to accept new contracts, which the union said would lead to pay cuts for many but the new deal will ensure that no union members will earn less.

In October, workers at the Westway distribution warehouse in Street argued the company was attempting to fire and rehire their workforce on less favourable terms and conditions.

The General Secretary of trade union Community, Roy Rickhuss CBE, said members had been left with “no choice” but to go on strike.

Clarks was taken over by Hong Kong-based private equity firm LionRock Capital in March 2021. The company’s new approach of dismissing staff and renegotiating new contracts with them has been widely criticised, including by North East Somerset MP Jacob Rees-Mogg.

He told the House of Commons earlier this year: “Employers threatening to fire and rehire as a negotiating tactic are doing something that is wrong and decent employers do not do.”

“Companies should know better than to behave in this way. All companies operate best when their employees are working there with enthusiasm.”

The shoe manufacturer has now agreed to protect the pay of workers.

A joint statement from trade union Community and Clarks said: “Community and Clarks announce that, following a process of mediation with Acas, an agreement has been reached in respect of the industrial dispute at the Clarks Westway Distribution Centre.”

“We are pleased that a resolution has been reached that works in everybody’s interests, protects Community members’ livelihoods, and recognises their loyalty to Clarks.”

“Following an indicative ballot of Community members it is confirmed that normal working has now resumed.”

“Community and Clarks express their thanks to Acas for its support and look forward to close co-operation as we move on from the dispute and commit to positive industrial relations in the future.”

 
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