STRIKING Clarks workers, protesting against the ‘fire and rehire’ tactics of their bosses, held a major demonstration through Street yesterday, joined by supporters from the wider Labour movement and the general public.
The members of the Community Union have been on strike since October 4.
Strikers say they’re not just having a pay cut, but that other terms and conditions – including those relating to sick pay and redundancy – are also being changed for the worse.
Hong-Kong-based Lion Rock Capital, who own Clarks since the family sold out to them, are firing and rehiring all the warehouse workers and imposing a wage cut from £11.16p an hour to the (soon to become) minimum wage of £9.50p an hour, with other drastic cuts to nearly all paid allowances.
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.
Clapped and cheered
“Shoppers on the High Street clapped and cheered. The strikers are into their seventh 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.”
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. “
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.”
Jon Falkingham, Treasurer of Bridgwater Branch Labour Party, said: “We were represented today by two of our elected officers alongside other members. The turnout was impressive.
“Once moving. the march 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.”