Members of Unite the union’s Community branch will be outside Sports Direct stores across Yorkshire and North Lincs tomorrow (Wednesday 9 September) highlighting the retailer’s ‘Victorian’ work practices and demanding an end to its ‘shameful’ use of zero hours contracts.
The protests in Sheffield, Leeds, Keighley and Scunthorpe are part of a national day of action organised by the union to coincide with tomorrow’s Sports Direct’s annual general meeting.
Details of the protests are as follows:
Sheffield – 50 High St, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 1QH – 12:00 to 13:30
Leeds – Headrow Shopping Centre, The Headrow, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS1 6JD – 16:30 pm to 17:30
Keighley – 3 Cavendish Retail Park, Keighley, West Yorkshire BD21 3RB – 09:00 to 10:00
Scunthorpe – 98-102 High St, Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire DN15 6HB – 12:00 to 13:00
Coming amid a shareholder revolt, Sports Direct chairman Keith Hellawell and the company’s board are expected to come under fire over the ‘rampant’ use of low paid zero hours contracts in its UK stores.
75 per cent of staff in Sports Direct stores across the UK are on a zero hours contract with the retailer accounting for a fifth of all such contracts in the retail sector.
Shareholders, including the Trade Union Share Owners group, are also expected to grill the under fire chair and board over conditions at the retailer’s main workhouse where agency workers on zero hours contracts are working in fear of a ‘six strikes and you’re out rule’. Workers at the Shirebrook depot in Derbyshire also face being ‘named and shamed’ over a tannoy for not working hard enough.
Unite, which represents permanent workers at the site, estimates that as many as 3,000 workers are eking out a living in such conditions through two employment agencies – Best Connection and Transline. Under the ‘six strikes and you’re out’ of a job rule, agency workers can get strikes for taking too long in the toilet, talking too much or even having time off for sickness.
Commenting Unite regional Community coordinator John Coan said: “Low paid agency workers on zero hours contracts are being subjected to working conditions that are more akin to a Dickensian workhouse than a FTSE 100 company’s warehouse.
“These Victorian era conditions combined with Sports Direct’s rampant use of zero hours contracts across its stores should have no place on the high streets of 21st Century Britain.
“Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct is generating massive profits and can well afford to wean itself of a business model built on low pay and exploitative zero hours contracts.
“It’s time for Sports Direct to restore dignity and security at work by paying the real living wage and putting staff on permanent contracts.
“It’s time too for the Tory government to stop trying to make it harder for trade unions to stand up to abusive practices, such as those at Sports Direct, through its ideologically driven Trade Union bill.”
Unite has launched an online petition calling for an end to ‘Draconian’ working practices and an end to Sports Direct’s reliance on zero hours contracts. The petition can be viewed here.
For further information please contact John Coan on 07711 375536 or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.
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- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.