Clarks calls in Acas in ‘fire and rehire’ dispute

Warehouse staff at the shoe retailer have been on strike since 4 October over pay and conditions, claiming their employer wants them to accept new contracts that would mean a pay cut for many long-serving employees.

The striking workers are being represented by the Community union, which has confirmed it has been approached by Acas.

Adrian Axtell, national secretary for the union, told the BBC at the weekend that any talks would need to “be a serious attempt to try to resolve the matter”.

Yesterday, a spokesperson added: “We are hopeful that we can come to a resolution that works in everybody’s interests, protects our members’ livelihoods and recognises their loyalty to the company.”

Clarks claims that 69% of warehouse workers have agreed to the new contracts, up from 53% last week. Its latest offer is £10.03 an hour to all affected employees.

However, employees who have been working there for longer periods could lose out by as much as 20%, Community claims.

The union claimed last week that the company was using agency staff to cover striking workers, but Clarks denied this.

Striking workers led a protest march through Street in Somerset, where the main warehouse is based, at the weekend.

Acas published guidance last week on fire and rehire practices, urging employers to seek alternative options before dismissing and re-engaging staff.

Clarks is one of a number of employers accused of using the practice to rehire employees on lesser terms and conditions.

A private members’ bill put forward by Labour MP Barry Gardiner to outlaw the practice failed to get support in the House of Commons last month after Conservative MPs were urged not to back it.

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