Sheffield MP urges Sports Direct to go further on staff conditions

RETAILER SPORTS Direct has been accused of not going far enough after setting out plans to improve the deal it offers its workers.
Mike AshleyMike Ashley
Mike Ashley

The much-criticised firm is to offer casual retail staff guaranteed hours instead of zero-hours contracts and ensure all warehouse staff are paid above National Minimum Wage following a review into working practices at the retailer.

A report carried out by professional services firm RPC found “serious shortcomings” at the company’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, which Sports Direct’s board “deeply regrets and apologises for”.

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The retailer will now offer its directly-employed casual employees the option of either a zero-hours contract or a permanent contract with at least 12 guaranteed hours a week.

However, it added that agency workers, who make up the bulk of employees at Shirebrook, will not be eligible for the new terms. The firm is weighing up plans to move 10 agency staff a month to permanent jobs.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield was among members of the Businees, Innovation and Skills Committee which challenged Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley over working practices at the firm at a hearing in June.

Mr Blomfield said: “When I challenged Mike Ashley about not offering workers permanent contracts, he got really angry with my line of questioning.

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“Sports Direct are promising some changes, but I still have the same question for Mr Ashley now; why don’t you employ your staff on permanent contracts which reflect the hours they work.”

“Although giving directly employed casual retail staff some guaranteed hours of work is a welcome step it won’t help more than 4,000 agency workers toiling in Shirebook.

“They endure appalling working conditions. They deserve proper contracts and decent treatment.”