Hundreds March to Support Clarks Strikers

Clarks Strikers are now in their seventh week of action
Picture: Kate Pearce 13/11/2021

Striking Clarks workers protesting the ‘Fire and Rehire’ tactics of their bosses have held a major demonstration through the streets of Street joined by supporters from the wider Labour movement and the general public. The members of the Community Union have been on strike since October 4th. Strikers say they’re not just having a pay cut, but that other terms and conditions on sick pay, redundancy and everything else is also being slashed and so they’re basically being offered the same job on much worse money and conditions.  Eva Bryckowski from Wells Labour Party & Mendip Trades Council said “The demo was incredible with the strikers leading from the front. Hundreds from the Labour Party and Trades Unions came from different parts of the county to show solidarity. Shoppers on the High street clapped and cheered. The strikers are into their 7th week now and are still solid. Fire and rehire is happening everywhere and nationally some Unions are winning. If it isn’t defeated YOU will be next.”

Crowds gather at the demo
Picture: Kate Pearce 13/11/2021

The demo was joined by some national figures. Paul Nowak the Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, said “We’re here today to show solidarity with the striking Clarks workers who are standing up to the dreadful tactics of their employer using ‘fire and rehire’. So we’re standing up for decent pay, standing up for decent conditions and standing up for a Union voice at Clarks. I’m angry and frustrated that the Government doesn’t stop this fire and rehire right now. “

We Need to make a Stand

Community rep and striker Trevor Stephens said “We’ve been left with no option but to do this. If they’re going to do fire and rehire it’s awful for anyone in the country. We need to make a stand. We’ve got to keep growing and stay strong.”

Trevor Stephens rallies the crowd
Picture: Kate Pearce 13/11/2021

Roy Rickhaus, General Secretary of Community, said “We’re here to send a message to Clarks. Take Fire and Rehire off the table. Do not treat your workers in this way. Get back round the table, talk to your unions and lets have a sensible negotiation. But you MUST end Fire and Rehire!”

The Clarks workers have been out on strike now for 6 weeks and the Trade union movement has increased it’s solidarity during this time. Speakers from Unison, Usdaw, Unite and the various local Trades Union Councils joined the protest

Never Been Prouder

red flags on the green Somerset skyline

Dave Chapple, secretary of Mendip Trades Council  said “I’ve walked the streets of Somerset for 35 years as a delivery postman but I’ve never been prouder to walk the streets of a Somerset town than I have today walking through Street High Street. It’s been an absolute privilege.”

Labour Party’s from across the county also joined the demo. Jon Falkingham, Treasurer of Bridgwater Branch Labour Party, said “Represented today by two of their elected officers, alongside other members, Bridgwater Labour Party visited the Somerset town of Street with their banner. This was to show our solidarity and support for the strikers of the Clarks Distribution Warehouse, who’re facing an attack on their working conditions through the despicable practice of Fire & Rehire. The turnout was impressive.”

Bridgwater Labour Party Branch officers fly the flag for the strikers

There were Trades Union & Labour Party representatives from across the South West, and even some from further afield. Jon added “The march was slow starting, but once moving it carried an insatiable motion, geed along by horns blaring from passing cars on the Westway and applause in support from the shop workers on the High Street. The traffic of Street’s streets was slowed and held up, and the drivers and passengers, for the most part, met us with smiles and support. When passing the Clark’s Head Office building, there was an eerie quietness – deserted for the weekend, perhaps, but nonetheless poignant.  Once out of the town the march returned along the Westway and crossed through the underpass to gather in Woods Batch Park. Refreshments were served, and the speaker called us in closer to the stage. A modern nervousness in proximity to others had caused the gathering to fan out across the park, but there is a stoic sense of resoluteness from standing close with those you have common cause and solidarity – it gave the words spoken from stage greater resolve and purpose. There were speakers from the shop stewards leading the strike, from TUC leaders, and from various regional reps in solidarity. The more experienced public speakers truly made themselves known, rousing the crowd to rolling applause. Every word fell on welcoming ears though, and to hear the quieter voices empowered through a loudspeaker for the first time is what Unionism should be about and aspire to improve on.”

People can make their own private donations directly to   the Community Clarks Strike Fund: Sort code 60  83  01   Account number  34042733  Name: Community: Reference: Clarks Strike Pay

Film of the day

Pictures from the day of action

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robert parfitt
robert parfitt
2 years ago

To everyone who marched, I just wanted to say thankyou for showing Solidarity with us the workers picketing outside Clarks, here in Somerset. Shout out to all of those who attended. We did not start this fight, but neither shall we shrink away from it and the generosity from public feelings has given us a new belief in our struggle. Once again I want to say thankyou and let you know that if any of you are ever passing through, that you would be welcome and that it would be an honour to stand alongside you.

Ken Keable
Ken Keable
2 years ago

Well done everybody! Now we need to keep up the pressure.

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