Somerset

Clarks production staff start work to rule at Street depot

More than 200 production staff at Clarks distribution depot in Somerset are starting a work to rule in a row over pay and conditions.

Members of the Community union at Clarks in Street voted by 4-1 to take action.

The union said its members were angry at the imposition of a 3.5% rise linked to changes in pay which it said reduced the value of the rise to 2.6%.

Clarks said it firmly believed the settlement was "fair and reasonable".

"We are disappointed that this issue has resulted in Community deciding to work to rule.

"This award is significantly higher than the best offers made by other members of the British Footwear Association members and is also considerably higher than average pay settlements in 2011 across the UK

"Industrial action, or the threat of it, will not change our position," the company spokesman said.

'Element of respect'

Union spokesman, Joe Mann, said the company wanted to impose new terms of employment without negotiation.

"We would like to put the 3.5% [offer] to the workforce - but the issue isn't about pay its about the company arbitrarily implementing changes to terms and conditions outside of our agreements with them and then roughshod over that relationship.

"Our members are saying we deserve that element of respect and we want to negotiate these terms and conditions rather than have them implemented.

"We also balloted for strike action - at this stage they don't want to - but they really want the company to take the message that we're prepared to negotiate and we want an agreement or to go to arbitration," he added.

The shoe company, which is still three quarters owned by the Clark family, was launched in 1825 when James Clark made a pair of slippers out of sheepskin from his brother's tannery.

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