Unite responds to Sports Direct working practices report

Responding to the publication of the RPC report into working practices at Sports Direct, Unite assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, said: “We welcome the commitment by the Sports Direct board to work constructively with Unite to bring about real change in its efforts to address labour abuses and become an exemplary employer.

“Our members not only work for the retailer, but shop at Sports Direct too and will be heartened by the board's recognition of the severity of the issues Unite has raised and campaigned on over these past months.

“While the report marks significant progress, not least the eradication of zero hour contracts in the stores and the six strikes and you are out system, Unite will be asking the board to go further and faster in a number areas when we engage with the company.

“Unite still has concerns over the use of the two employment agencies, The Best Connection and Transline, which supply over 3,400 workers to the Sports Direct Shirebrook warehouse. For Unite it has been their behaviour and the lack of oversight that has been the cause of so many of the abuses at Shirebrook.

“We therefore call on Sports Direct to reconsider its proposal to only move 10 agency workers a month onto direct, permanent contracts. At that rate it will take over 340 months or 28 years for the whole of the agency workforce at Shirebrook to be moved on to secure, direct contracts.

“Unite believes the board can be bolder in the coming months and put in place a framework agreement to move bigger numbers of agency workers into direct employment, as well eradicating the use of short hour contracts such as the annualised 336 hours contract currently in use at Shirebrook.

“We should not forget that the abuses which the Sports Direct board now want to take action on would not have been thrust into the public eye if it had not been for the work of Unite. In a world of work which is becoming ever more precarious Unite has proved that trade unions are more relevant than ever and that it pays to be a member of a trade union.

“We will seek to work constructively with Sports Direct over the coming months to ensure it stays true to its promise to restore dignity and respect to the workplace.”