Clarks Dispute Ends in Victory

Community Union ‘pleased that resolution has been reached’

An agreement has been reached between the trade union Community and the shoe manufacturer Clarks, ending the industrial action that has taken place over the last two months. The agreement sees the pay of workers protected after previous threats of reduction.  Workers at the Street distribution centre had been on strike since 4th October over the discredited ‘Fire and Rehire’  tactic which had been brought in when Clarks was taken over by Hong Kong based private equity firm LionRock Capital. Trades unionists, Labour Party members and the wider community from around Somerset had rallied around the striking workers and a major march through the streets of Street took place as the dispute escalated. The settlement, involving a major input of new money and achieved in the run up to Christmas, has been welcomed by workers and supporters.


Recent demo in Street;- Picture: Kate Pearce13/11/2021

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.

Statement from Mendip TUC

‘Somerset leads the way’

Dave Chapple, Secretary of Mendip Trades Union Council said “In a Community Union statement today, introducing its joint media release with C& J Clark International, the end of the two-month long strike has been described as “Fire and Rehire Defeated!” It certainly has! In fact, the Fire and Rehire proposal, which would have reduced most hourly rates from £1l.16p and hour to £9.50p an  hour, has been smashed to pieces! Even the small minority of ‘New World Contract’ staff have achieved  a 5.4% pay rise! While some concessions were made during the ACAS-brokered negotiations, there are three reasons why the negotiated settlement of the longest all-out strike in Somerset for 35 years was overwhelmingly accepted by the strikers:

in future collective bargaining will be the norm” Dave Chapple Mendip TUC

1. “Fire and Rehire”  was withdrawn.

2. Clarks have accepted, not only that they needed to recognise, meet with, and negotiate with Community, they have accepted that in the future collective bargaining with the union, on all terms and conditions with the Community Representatives of the Clarks warehouse workers, will be the norm. 
3. The basic hourly rate of £11.16 remains!
On behalf of Mendip Trades Union Council, I would like to congratulate first, and foremost, the Clarks Westway Warehouse Community Union Strikers; second, the local, regional and national Community Union Reps and Officials; third, all those unions and union branches who donated huge sums of money to the strike fund; fourthly, all those who visited the daily picket lines; and last but not least, all those wo attended the magnificent 400-strong march and rally at Street on Saturday November 13th, two days after which, Clarks asked for ACAS-led negotiations!
“In the striking order of the day, Somerset leads the way!”

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Douglas Ross
Douglas Ross
2 years ago

This is of course wonderful news and everyone involved deserves to be congratulated. However, it is a good example of the dangers of allowing businesses owned by people who are part of, or at least in touch with, the local community to be taken over by foreign enterprises who are only ineterested in the return on their capital. This emigration of the ownership of the means of production is a far greater threat to this country and the lives of British working people than the immigration of labour ever was. It is particularly ironic that Lion Rock Capital are based in Hong Kong, part of the People’s Republic of China!

Marianne McAleer
Marianne McAleer
2 years ago

This is fantastic news after a long struggle that was completely justified. I hope the new owners of Clarks treat their key workers with respect in future.

Sean Dromgoole
Sean Dromgoole
2 years ago

Wonderful news. Proper Somerset solidarity gets results. Congratulations to all strikers, organisers, trades unionists and other supporters involved. Its good to get a win occasionally! Best from Labour in your neighbouring constituency of Somerton and Frome.

Find your ward using the SCC ward finder

Privacy Policy

To read our Privacy Policy and GDPR compliance statement click here.