Sports Direct targeted by protesters over ‘zero hours’ deals

THE Leeds branch of retailer Sports Direct was targeted with a protest over controversial “zero hours” working practices.

Members of the Youth Fight For Jobs group held a rally outside the company’s Headrow branch. The protest follows revelations last week that 90 per cent of the company’s workforce, around 20,000 part-time workers, are on zero-hours contracts which do not guarantee them any work and also allow employers to avoid paying sick pay.

The news comes just weeks after it was revealed the firm’s 2,000 full-time staff were about to receive share-based bonuses of up to £100,000.

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A number of other employers, including Government departments, have also been revealed to be involved in the widespread use of zero-hours contracts. Pressure has been mounting on Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley to meet trade unions bosses to discuss the issue.

Yesterday’s Leeds rally was the latest campaign organised by Youth Fight for Jobs, and aims to raise awareness of the frustrations faced by underemployed young workers, from low pay to being asked to work late without pay or not receiving paid breaks at work. The campaign also aims to encourage young workers to join trade unions.

Iain Dalton of Youth Fight for Jobs, said: “This is symptomatic of the increase of underemployment in the workplace with a layer of workers unable to find full time work and being relegated to part-time work that they cannot afford to live from. Otherwise they are on the dole where they are forced to take part in the governments workfare schemes instead of by employed doing the same work as a real paid job.”

Sports Direct has so far declined to comment.