Sports Direct are still using zero hour contracts

SPORTS DIRECT is still recruiting for zero hour jobs in a spite of a promise to scrap them. The notorious sportswear retailer, whose bosses will face a grilling at its AGM on Friday, said a year ago that it would offer guaranteed hours to its staff.

But new job ads on the company website explicitly state that recruits are offered “no guaranteed hours of work”. The ads say that “hours of work can therefore vary from week to week and, as a result, there may be weeks when no hours of work are offered”.

General union Unite said the revelation marked a “return to the bad old ways” at the company.
“Made amid great fanfare, Sports Direct’s commitment to wean itself off exploitative zero hours contracts and offer store staff guaranteed hours was meant to demonstrate the retailer was serious about dealing with abusive working practices,” the union’s assistant general secretary Steve Turner said.

“Yet one year on Sports Direct has been caught red handed breaking its promise to offer workers the security of knowing what hours they will work and how much they will earn from one week to the next.”

At the company’s AGM in Derbyshire, a hefty chunk of the company’s shareholders are planning to vote against the reappointment of Sports Direct chair Keith Hellawell.

Last year he failed to secure the backing of minority shareholders. Mr Hellawell remained in post because he had the backing of founder and executive deputy chairman Mike Ashley, who owns over 60 per cent of the company’s stock.

But Mr Hellawell has pledged to resign this year if he does not win the backing of a majority of independent investors. Shareholder advisory firm Pirc said Mr Hellawell had “failed to show leadership in a critical period for the company”.

Trade Union Share Owners, which represents holdings within unions’ pension funds, has written to fellow investors urging them to vote against Mr Hellawell. The group said that workplace accidents continued to occur in the firm’s Shirebrook warehouse.

Sports Direct has been extensively criticised by unions and MPs for conditions akin to a “Victorian workhouse”. Agency staff at Shirebrook have blown the whistle on sexual harassment as well as bosses penalising workers for toilet breaks and chatting.

Sports Direct did not respond to a request for comment.