The BBC reports that the shoe retailer Clarks is in a dispute with a trade union over the alleged use of agency workers to cover a strike at its warehouse in Somerset. Clarks has denied allegations that it has been illegally employing agency workers to cover staff at its warehouse in Somerset who are currently taking industrial action. Using agency workers to break a strike is against the law.
Clarks says its agency workers are not doing the jobs of strikers, and it has always acted “according to the law”. Workers at the Clarks warehouse in Street, Somerset have been on strike for over a month in a dispute over pay and conditions. A number of employment agencies are advertising positions as warehouse operatives at the site.
Clarks confirms that it is using agency workers at the site, but it denies that they are doing the work of striking workers. It says that while individual agency workers come and go, their total number never exceeds the number employed at the beginning of the strike.
“Throughout this period of industrial action, Clarks has been acting according to the law. Clarks is not using agency workers to cover employees who are on strike,” the company said in a statement.
Community, which represents the striking workers, complained to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy about one particular individual. He was employed as a general worker but was seen on a number of occasions driving a forklift which was usually driven by a worker who was on strike.
Clarks claims to have provided union information on the agency workers it employs in order to demonstrate compliance with the law. However, the union is still dissatisfied with the use of agency workers at the warehouse. “We are continuing to investigate further wrongdoing and will appeal this with the relevant agencies wherever it may be found,” a spokesperson said.
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