The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and Dundee)

New claims of Victorian working practices


Fresh complaints of “Victorian” working practices at Sports Direct have been made, with conditions likened to a “labour camp”.

The Unite union told MPs that workers at the retail giant’s Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire were in constant fear of losing their job, facing disciplina­ry action for spending too long in the toilet, or for “excessive” talking.

Assistant general secretary Steve Turner told the Business Select Committee that workers were exploited, with thousands employed on zero-hours contracts, facing the sack if they had six “strikes” placed against them by managers.

The union said it had no confidence in a review into working practices announced last year by owner Mike Ashley.

Chris Birkby, managing director of Transline, which supplies workers to Sports Direct, said HR surgeries had been set up for staff to raise any problems. Regular surveys are held, with one last week showing a 96% satisfacti­on level.

Andy Sweeney, chief executive of Best Connection Group, which also supplies staff, accused Unite of “misreprese­nting” conditions at Shirebrook.

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