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Sports Direct faces Christmas under pressure

Sports Direct photo by Ewan Munro

Photo by Ewan Munro (Creative Commons)

The good news is we may be seeing the first signs of movement at Sports Direct. The bad news is that it is still not enough.

Following media revelations – most notably a Guardian undercover investigation – and union pressure, Sports Direct has announced a review of all agency staff terms and conditions, to be personally overseen by company founder Mike Ashley.

The review will have much to consider, from staff being paid less than the minimum wage to the local primary school headteachers that report children of Sports Direct workers attend school sick because their parents are afraid to take time off work.

But can Sports Direct investigate itself? Shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said: “This Sports Direct review is overdue but has the whiff of a pupil marking its own homework.”

And Unite regional officer Luke Primarolo has warned that the review must lead to real change, including moving agency staff onto permanent contracts: “A failure to do so will do nothing to restore investor and customer confidence and leave the board open to accusations of doing nothing more than engaging in a public relations stunt.”

Unite is also calling on HMRC to investigate Sports Direct for failing to pay the minimum wage. Even the Institute of Directors has branded the firm “a scar on British business”.

As Christmas approaches, Sports Direct’s “Dickensian” work practices are under increasing pressure. Let’s not let up on it now. Please encourage others to sign the petition too, and make sure Sports Direct know how many people are watching how they handle this review.

18 Dec 15

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