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Sports Direct apologises for working conditions

Sep 6

Written by:
06/09/2016 13:24  RssIcon

After a wave of protests, Sports Direct ditch zero-hours contracts 


This morning, Sports Direct announced that it will offer retail staff 12 hours guaranteed a week. It has also dropped its controversial ‘six strikes system’. 

This comes after nationwide protests took place on Saturday 3rd September outside Sports Direct stores over the retailer’s appalling treatment of its workers and use of insecure zero hour contracts.

Image: War on Want Sports Direct shame

Demonstration in Hackney, credit: War on Want. 


The demonstrations took place in 15 locations, including Grimsby, Manchester, Liverpool, Eastbourne and Streatham in South London. Shoppers at the Sports Direct stores were urged to support Sports Direct workers and call on their MPs to end precarious contracts, and with it appalling workplace exploitation.


What about Shirebrook?

A select committee report published in July by MPs, highlighted the appalling working practices at the Shirebrook warehouse. Despite this, Sports Direct seem to have excluded Shirebrook workers from this new 12 hour contract.

At the Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook (Derbyshire)  workers suffered:

Being named and shamed over a loudspeaker system, Body searches after every shift, and a '6 strikes and you’re out' policy.

Strikes can be given for: 

  • Chatting too much 
  • Spending too much time in the toilet 
  • Being sick and unable to attend work 
  • Being sick and needing to leave work early 


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

“Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has bowed to public pressure and has been forced to act. But the retailer’s report into its practices is just not credible.  Don't be fooled by billionaire Ashley, this is more about saving his own skin than stopping the exploitation of workers. 

“The test for Mike Ashley’s actions is not whether investors get off his back, but whether workers no longer feel like they’re working in a gulag.

“Ending the ‘six strikes’ policy and offering fixed hours to shop staff is a start but will not ensure workers are fairly treated. Only through allowing workers their own voice in a trade union at work can abuse and exploitation be stopped."


What you can do

War on Want is supporting Unite the Union’s Sports Direct Shame campaign to give the protection of a union to all workers and end the abuse of precarious contracts. Follow the campaign on Twitter, using the hashtag #SportsDirectShame. 


Check out our guide to Sport Shops to see where to buy your sports gear from. 








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