Britain’s largest union, Unite, announced today (Tuesday 28 April) that it was launching a confidential advice and support line as part of a campaign to confront abusive ‘Victorian’ work practices at Sports Direct and a culture of fear at the retailer’s Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire.
The move follows last night’s (Monday 27 April) Channel 4’s Dispatches programme: ‘The secrets of Sports Direct’, which exposed a zero hours contract workforce in constant fear of losing their jobs with staff named and shamed over a tannoy for not working fast enough.
It is estimated that only 300 out of the 5,000 plus workers at the Shirebrook depot actually have contracts with Sports Direct with the majority on zero hour contracts with two employment agencies – Best Connection and Transline.
According to the programme, the draconian working conditions are underpinned by a ‘six strikes and you’re out’ disciplinary procedure. Workers can get strikes for long toilet breaks, excessive chatting and even having time off for sickness.
The confidential Unite hotline allows workers to get advice and support on workplace abuses at Sports Direct.
For help workers need to call 0333 323 1441.
Commenting, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “Like a throw-back to the Victorian era, workers on zero hours contracts at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook site are being shamefully exploited and living in daily fear of losing their job.
“Mike Ashley and Sport Direct’s shameful business model which is built on low pay and exploitative zero hours contracts, where workers are treated with contempt, has no place on the high streets of 21st century Britain.
“Shoppers at Sports Direct need to remember this when they buy a cheap tee-shirt or pair of trainers.
“Too often workers at the Shirebrook depot and across the retailer’s stores have been afraid to speak out. This culture of fear in Sports Direct needs to be confronted and the abusive workplace practices tackled.
“We would urge workers at Sports Direct to not suffer in silence, to join Unite’s campaign for decent work, to get in touch via the confidential number and together we can put dignity back into the workplace.”