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8 December 2021

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Clarks strikers defeat 'fire and rehire'

Clarks protest. Photo: Bristol SP

Clarks protest. Photo: Bristol SP   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Baldwin, South West Socialist Party

After two months on strike Clarks workers have defeated the shoe firm's plans to fire and rehire them on considerably reduced wages. The company had been trying to impose a 15% pay cut, reducing hourly pay to just £9.50, along with a whole raft of other attacks. It came up against determined resistance from members of the Community trade union who began all-out strike action in October.

Clarks has now backed down from the plans to fire workers at the Westway distribution centre in Street, Somerset, to force them to sign up to the new terms. The existing pay of £11.16 an hour has been protected, and newer staff will have their pay raised to this level, in line with their workmates.

Full details of the deal have not yet been made public and may include some concessions by workers as well as management. Nonetheless, beating fire and rehire is a victory, and staff have voted to accept the deal and end the strike.

The deal between the firm and the union was struck at Acas, the third party mediation service. However, it was only possible due to concerted struggle pushing the company back. They had only agreed to mediation after the strike had already been in place for over a month and they'd already had to improve their offer to £10.03 an hour.

Strikers had kept up well-organised pickets covering every shift for two months. Support from other trade unionists was shown through donations to the strike fund, large numbers joining the picket lines for solidarity days, and the hundreds-strong demonstration which was applauded at every turn as it marched through the village of Street.

The successful fight by this relatively small group of workers will have much wider repercussions. Other employers will have been watching the outcome and may now think again before attempting to inflict similar attacks on their workforce.

Likewise, all workers will need to learn from this example, that struggle and solidarity are vital to defending their interests.

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In The Socialist 8 December 2021:


Unite to fight for pay and NHS we deserve

Government social care plans: Where is the money?

Uni staff and students must unite to end marketisation and for free education

Covid news in brief

What we think

Workers' politics needed to exploit Tory scandal and splits

People's Budgets

Building People's Budgets: An alternative to Tory and Labour cuts

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Wider working-class and union struggle needed to win St Vincent nurses' strike

Defending abortion rights in the US

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Universities strike - build the action and stand united to win

Thousands of Tesco warehouse workers to strike

Sandwell bin workers beat Serco and win pay rise

Panasonic workers break company pay freeze

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Organise to win the NEU's 8% pay demand

Yorkshire Stagecoach bus workers' week-long strike

Worksop Wincanton logistics workers on strike

Newham Sixth Form College begins strike against academisation

Sheffield Just East couriers picket and march for pay rise

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Remembering Tony Davison

Fighting Fund: Help us reach over 50,000

Defying unjust laws - a rich history of struggle

Mail attacks tube strikers by stealing socialist's image


Film review: The Harder They Fall


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Article dated 8 December 2021

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Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally, photo by Alistair Tice

Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally: Over 100 trade unionists and students in Sheffield rallied in support of the Just Eat delivery drivers on their 31st day of targeted strike action against company pay cuts. Photo by Alistair Tice

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