Campaigners from the UK’s largest union protested outside Sports Direct stores in Mansfield and Shirebrook today, calling on the retailer to end its “Dickensian” treatment of staff.
Members of Unite union handed out Valentine’s cards and cakes outside the outlets on Saturday, February 13, demanding the chain “have a heart” by putting staff on permanent contracts and paying them the national living wage.
The protests were part of a national campaign day headed by Unite, which also saw a 20,000 strong petition handed in at Sport Direct’s Shirebrook headquarters.
The campaigners were joined by councillors from Mansfield District Council as well as MP for Mansfield, Alan Meale.
Councillor Sonya Ward, of Mansfield District Council, said: “Mansfield and Shirebrook are both areas of economic depravity, and it’s not easy to encourage residents into work when retailers like Sports Direct demonstrate Victorian working practices.
“They expect workers to cope on zero hour contracts on less than national minimum wage- leaving them unable to afford basic living costs.”
Unite member and Mansfield district councillor, Lee Probert, said: “Sports Direct staff are being denied all the usual rights- working without holiday or sick pay and being subjected to dreadful working conditions. It’s a disgrace.”
The latest action follows a series of “Sports Direct Shame” protests by Newcastle United and Rangers football fans over Sports Direct’s work practices and treatment of agency workers at its main warehouse in Shirebrook.
Employed to work for Sports Direct by Transline and The Best Connection, conditions for agency workers in the warehouse have been likened to a “gulag” with workers working in fear of a “six strikes and you’re out” rule.
Unite Community co-ordinator for the East Midlands, David Condliffe, said: “Sports Direct has become a byword for Victorian work practices and shoddy corporate governance. So much so, over 20,000 people have signed a petition telling them to clean their act up.
“Sports Direct needs to have a heart, put staff on permanent contracts and pay the real living wage to regain the trust of customers and investors alike.”