Worksop B&Q warehouse workers to protest at Brendan Clarke-Smith jobs fair after he allegedly ‘mocked their plight’

B&Q warehouse workers striking over pay will protest outside a Worksop jobs fair being held by MP Brendan Clarke-Smith over his alleged refusal to support them.

Thursday, 27th January 2022, 3:00 pm

Tomorrow (January 28), striking union members at the B&Q Distribution Centre in Worksop will be protesting outside Bassetlaw MP Brendan Clarke-Smith’s job fair after his alleged refusal to support them.

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The protest tomorrow will take place at 10am outside Worksop Masonic Hall, Potter Street.

It is thought up to 100 protesters may be at the site, where employer B&Q will be to share information about potential jobs to work-seekers.

Last week, Unite called on Mr Clarke-Smith to support their campaign as workers fight for a better pay from their employer Wincanton.

Mr Clarke-Smith also invited people looking for work or a job change to attend his job fair, which is taking place tomorrow.

Members called this response “noncommittal and ambiguous”.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at the B&Q distribution centre, as well as their families, have experienced real hardship because of the poverty wages paid by Wincanton.

“So imagine their anger when the only support Mr Clarke-Smith, who was elected on a pledge to level up, can give is advising them to attend a jobs fair where B&Q is recruiting.

“Their own MP seems to be mocking their plight.

"Our members’ jobs, pay and conditions are not a laughing matter and Unite will be defending them to the hilt.”

Around 450 Wincanton staff, who make-up the vast majority of the warehouse’s workforce, have been on rolling strikes since November over pay rates as low as £9.96 an hour.

Last year, Unite members were offered a four per cent pay rise which was rejected by 88 per cent.

In response to the protest tomorrow, Mr Clarke-Smith said: “Local people and hardworking families are desperate for decent employment opportunities, and it is disappointing and quite shameful that Unite has decided to hijack a jobs fair to play their self-serving and juvenile political games.

“I have stated on numerous occasions that I believe all workers should be paid a fair wage and that it should also be relative to the cost of living.

“It is not for me to tell individual employers what they should be paying their staff.

"That said, I understand the current rate of £9.96 per hour is already above the National Living Wage as well as the upcoming increase to this.

"I also understand the percentage of the pay rise offered is higher than that given to many other workers, including NHS staff.

“Unite should focus on getting the best deal for B&Q workers, not sabotaging the employment prospects of others and intimidating members of the public.”