Firm grilled over contracts

NDET 03-10-12 MC 6'Sports Direct Shirebrook
NDET 03-10-12 MC 6'Sports Direct Shirebrook

Sports Direct grilled at Shirebrook branch over contracts

ShareAction which campaigns for responsible investment, questioned Sports Direct at its Shirebrook warehouse during the company’s AGM, last Wednesday.

The group used its rights as a proxy shareholder to ask about the firm’s reliance on zero-hours contracts but Sports Direct refused to comment.

ShareAction digital campaigner Bex Hay said: “Sports Direct had a disregard for all questions asked relating around zero-hours contracts. To suggest a company cannot discuss anything about employees with shareholders is frankly unacceptable. Zero-hours contract controversy is going to continue to follow Sports Direct and the comnpany is simply going to have to move beyond no comment.”

Zero-hours contracts mean Sports Direct does not have to provide a minimum amount of working hours to workers which means the company only has to provide work according to its needs and workers cannot rely on regular hours and incomes.

Sports Direct, according to ShareAction, is the UK’s biggest employer to use the contracts which have been described as unfair by some MPs.

ShareAction also claims workers on zero-hours contracts at Sports Direct have to seek permission before working elsewhere.

The group asked if Sports Direct aimed to amend zero-hours contracts to exclude clauses restricting staff from working elsewhere but the company declined to comment. A Sports Direct spokesman said there is a desire to discuss zero-hours but added: “There is an outstanding legal action against the company by a former employee in respect of zero-hours and that prevents us from discussing zero-hours.”

Sports Direct, founded by billionaire Mike Ashley, is also facing legal action from 250 workers excluded from a multi-million pound bonus scheme because they were on zero-hours contracts.