SOMERSET shoe giant Clarks has been accused of attempting to “fire and rehire” workers by planning to reduce the terms and conditions for more than 100 employees at its distribution centres.

The Community union said negotiations on new terms had broken down, claiming the company is pushing for its employees to accept a reduction in the hourly wage, sick pay and annual holidays, plus the removal of 10-minute coffee breaks and complimentary hot drinks.

Assistant general secretary, John Paul McHugh, said: “We are incredibly disappointed by the actions of Clarks, and for both their workers and their customers we strongly urge them to come back around the table and reach a solution.

“Clarks is a staple brand on the British high street, with a history dating back over a century. The workers most adversely impacted by these changes are those who have been employees for decades, sticking with the company through thick and thin, stepping up in the last year during the challenging pandemic period.

“Fire and rehire is no way to thank your employees or your customers.”

The claims come after the firm was taken over by Asian investment company LionRock in a £100m rescue deal.

READ MORE: £100 MILLION rescue plan for Clarks approved by shareholders

A company spokesman said: “Clarks is currently consulting with unions and employees at our Westway Distribution Centre in Street, Somerset, on proposed changes to employment terms and conditions for all operatives.

“As we are in a period of consultation, we are unable to comment any further at this time.”

One Clarks worker at the Street centre, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, said workers were 'on the verge of striking'.

"People could lose their homes," the employee said.

"A lot of people are suffering mental health issues for worrying about this.

"How do they pay the bills?"