Image caption, Protesters marched through the nearby town of Street

Striking Clarks workers have marched through Street as part of their ongoing fight over the firm’s “fire and rehire” policy.

Some staff have been on strike since October after the shoe retailer introduced contracts which, they claim, would equate to a pay cut of up to 20%.

Workers told the BBC they felt “upset” and “hurt” after “years of loyalty”.

Clarks said it had “conceded on a number of terms” and 53% of staff had accepted the new deal.

Part of this included a 5.6% pay rise for workers based on its original proposal.

This was not enough to satisfy the striking warehouse workers who are being supported by union Community.

They said the offer “still isn’t good enough and represents a pay cut”.

The new deal was introduced after the firm – which is one of the west of England’s oldest employers – posted loses of £172m last year as the pandemic reduced worldwide sales by 44%.

In March, Hong Kong-based private equity group LionRock Capital bought a majority stake in the Somerset-based firm after investing £100m.

And while the deal would represent a pay rise for some workers, longstanding employees say they will suffer because of the loss of more generous terms and conditions.

Image caption, Francis Foley has worked for Clarks for 34 years

Mendip Trades Union Council previously said the offer would represent an average reduction in pay.

It would also include the abolition of paid 30-minute meal breaks and daily 10-minute coffee breaks, and cuts in sick pay and redundancy entitlements.

Francis Foley said he had not taken a sick day in 34 years until the new terms and conditions were announced.

“I’ve been off with depression because it affected me,” he told BBC Points West.

“I collapsed one morning going to work [and] cracked my head open.

“That’s how it’s affecting me. It’s affecting everyone.”

Image caption, Speakers addressed the marchers at a rally in Woods Batch Park

Employee Trevor Stephens said the changes were “barbaric”.

“It will mean a complete change in lifestyle for most people that we can’t afford,” he added.

“Most of us live pay cheque to pay cheque. I run the real risk of not having a flat [and] if that is the case then I don’t get to see my kids.”

Image caption, Trevor Stephens said a reduction in earnings could see him lose his home

As well as the march, striking workers have held pickets at the Clarks Westway Warehouse.

The firm accused striking workers of “abusing and intimidating” those who were still going into work.

This is something the union refutes.

Adrian Axtell, Community Union’s national secretary, called for mediation but warned that “it has got to be a serious attempt to try to resolve this matter”.

Image caption, Some members of the public applauded the marchers as they walked through street

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