Nationwide protests over Sports Direct's ‘appalling work practices’

2 September 2016 - 11:15am
Press release

Supporters of campaigning charity War on Want are organising nationwide protests outside Sports Direct stores over the retailer’s appalling treatment of its workers and use of insecure zero hour contracts.

The demonstrations on Saturday 3 September will take place in 15 locations, including Grimsby, Manchester, Liverpool, Eastbourne and Streatham in South London. They come ahead of Sports Direct’s 2016 Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 7 September where a Trade Union sponsored resolution has called for an independent investigation to look at ensuring workers move onto permanent contracts.

The appalling working practices at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse have long been called out by the Unite the Union, and were laid bare in a recent select committee report by MPs [1]. War on Want supporters will express their support with this largely migrant workforce.

Shoppers at the Sports Direct stores will be urged to support Sports Direct workers and call on their MPs to end precarious contracts, and with it appalling workplace exploitation.

Sports Direct has become emblematic of the rise of precarious contracts that give workers no security. The precarious nature of work and its consequences has been on the rise since the mid-1970s, corresponding with a weakening of trade union rights, deregulation and free market economics. Today, 4.5 million workers find themselves on precarious contracts [2].  Precarious contracts are causing a rise in workplace discrimination: workers are afraid to speak up against racist and sexist abuse for fear of losing future work. [3]

War on Want’s labour rights campaigner, Owen Espley, said:

 “For too long, workers at Sports Direct have been being treated as commodities rather than human beings. Workers face constant harassment, are subject to daily body searches and penalised for spending too long in the toilet.

“Precarious contracts are a recipe for insecurity and exploitation, and with bosses holding all the power workers are too afraid of speaking out for fear of losing their job. It’s time for action to end the abuse endured by workers at Sports Direct. Whilst change is sorely needed in Sports Direct’s boardroom, the proof must be seen on the shopfloor.”

 

Notes to Editors

For more information and to arrange interviews contact Ross Hemingway on +44 7983 550 728

Photos will be made available here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/waronwant/albums/72157672250559002

Locations: Sports Direct National Day of Action http://www.waronwant.org/media/sports-direct-national-day-action

Sports Direct Shame campaign http://www.waronwant.org/SportsDirectShame  

Take Action: End Precarious Contracts http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=1819&ea.campaign.id=54112&ea.url.id=666514&forwarded=true  

Sports Direct AGM 2016 Information http://www.sportsdirectplc.com/investor-relations/2016-agm-information.aspx

[1] Business, Innovation and Skills Committee: Working practices at Sports Direct inquiry https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/business-innovation-and-skills/inquiries/parliament-2015/working-practices-at-sports-direct-inquiry-16-17/

[2] Analysis by Citizens Advice found 4.5 million workers on insecure contracts: over 2.3 million people are working variable shift patterns, with an additional 1.1 million on temporary contracts and a further 800,000 are on either zero hour or agency contracts.

[3] The Women and Equalities Select Committee found that rising discrimination against new mothers and pregnant women was caused by the increase in women on precarious contracts, who do not always enjoy the same maternity rights and protections.   http://www.parliament.uk/womenandequalities

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