Sports Direct is the UK’s largest retailer of sportswear. It was founded in 1982 as one store in Maidenhead, Berkshire, by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, who holds a 71% stake in the company. The company employs over 17,000 people in both its shops and warehouses.
Sports Direct has been under media scrutiny
In recent months, Sports Direct has been under media scrutiny for the dire treatment of its employees ranging from dismissing employees when off sick to being asked to work for free due to labour budget constraints.
Reports included an alarming rate of ambulances called to the Shirebrook Warehouse between 1st January 2013 and 19th April 2016. A total number of 110 ambulances or paramedic cars were dispatched with 50 cases classified as life threatening and one woman who gave birth in the toilet of the Warehouse.
Staff that were on zero-hour contracts were being forced to work a further three hours without pay. If they refused they would not be offered hours, the following day.
Sports Direct boss, Mike Ashley has pledged to put a worker’s representative on the board and committed to abolishing the zero-hour contract and offer staff at least 12 hours guaranteed work per week. This abolishment however would not apply to the Shirebrook warehouse where most employees are agency workers.
Ensuring fairness and equality
Mike Ashley has stated that a workers’ representative would give workers a voice at the highest level possible to ensure that fairness and equality is established in its retail stores and warehouses.
Time will tell whether the initiatives put in place by Sports Direct will ensure that the current ‘Workhouse’ conditions are turned around and the Company’s employees feel dignified and respected by management.