There is a report in today’s Guardian which states that Mike Ashley, owner of Sports Direct, is to oversee a review of agency staff employment conditions at his company. This follows allegations that payment of the minimum wage was being undermined and concern about working conditions at the company’s warehouse in Derbyshire. The Guardian article can be read here.
The following press statement from Unite the Union has been issued in response to Ashley’s latest move.
Mike Ashley’s review into Sports Direct employment practices risks being a PR stunt, warns Unite
A review by Mike Ashley into the use agency workers at Sports Direct will be nothing more than a public relations stunt if it fails to end ‘Victorian’ work practices at the retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse, Britain’s largest union Unite warned today (Friday 18 December).
The review announced by the Sports Direct board today, follows a Guardian investigation which found that extra, unpaid time taken for “rigorous” compulsory searches meant workers were paid less than the minimum wage.
Likening working conditions in the warehouse to a ‘gulag’, the investigation also found that workers were being ‘docked’ wages for arriving as little as a minute late to work.
Unite regional officer Luke Primarolo said: “Shameful ‘Victorian’ work practices have no place in modern Britain and this review should not deter HMRC from investigating the non-payment of the minimum wage to agency workers at Sports Direct.
“Unite has repeatedly raised concerns with the board and Mike Ashley directly about the use of ‘Victorian’ work practices. We look forward to participating fully with Mike Ashley’s review and to working with Sports Direct to eradicate the mistreatment of workers at its Shirebrook warehouse.
“If his review is to be taken seriously then it has to have concrete outcomes, such as restoring dignity at work by moving agency staff at Best Connection and Transline workers onto permanent contracts.
“A failure to do so will do nothing to restore investor and customer confidence and leave the board open to accusations of doing nothing more than engaging in a public relations stunt.”