UNION members at a Clarks distribution centre in Somerset have voted to go on strike over controversial 'fire and rehire' tactics at the world-famous shoemaker.

The famous Somerset firm, which is headquartered in Street, has been consulting employees over new contract proposals, dubbed 'fire and rehire' tactics by unions.

The change would see workers' contracts changed, altering rates of pay for some.

If they fail to accept the changes, they would lose their jobs, or they agree to them and are 'rehired'.

The company says the changes to the terms and conditions for operatives are to achieve 'sustainable employment costs' and to ensure equal rates of pay for workers.

But some staff at the Clarks distribution centre at Westway, in Street, have now voted to take industrial action, believed to be a walkout on October 4.

A Clarks spokesperson said: “At our Westway Distribution Centre we continue to consult with employees on proposed changes to employment terms and conditions for all Operatives.

"It is crucial that Clarks achieves sustainable employment costs, but it is equally fundamental that it achieves fairness between its Distribution Operatives, where differences in hourly rates of pay currently exist.

"As the consultation process is ongoing, we are disappointed that some employees have voted in favour of industrial action.

"Right from the start, Clarks has taken a constructive and collaborative approach, seeking to reach a compromise and avoid the need to terminate contracts on current terms and offer re-engagement on new terms, which the company has always regarded as the very last resort.

READ MORE: Clarks threatened with strike action against 'fire and rehire' tactic
READ MORE: Staff fear 'fire and rehire' tactics at Clarks in Somerset

"We remain hopeful for a constructive conclusion in due course, based on the significant concessions Clarks has made in respect of its proposal of new terms.

"We can also confirm that the company has contingency plans in place that aim to minimize the impact to our customers as a result of this action."

Previously, the Unite union threatened potential action over the plans.

Unite regional officer, Gareth Lowe, said in July: “Our members are rightly angry at the employer’s threats to fire and re-hire which will cause a dramatic fall in their terms and conditions.

“The strength of feeling among staff is such that Unite will hold a consultative ballot over whether to take strike action.

“Unite will work alongside Community (another union) to fight these attacks and Clarks should be aware that if strike action is coordinated the company’s entire operations in Street will come to a halt.

“We urge Clarks to drop its unnecessary plans to hack at the terms and conditions of its loyal and dedicated staff.”