Sports Direct urged to 'have a heart' this Val...

Sports Direct urged to ‘have a heart’ this Valentines as thousands sign petition over ‘Victorian’ work practices

12 February 2016

Campaigners from Britain’s largest union, Unite will be handing in a giant Valentine’s card and a 20,000 strong petition at Sport Direct’s headquarters tomorrow (Saturday 13 February), calling on the retailer to ‘have a heart’ and put staff on permanent contracts and pay the real living wage.

The presentation and demonstration from 13:30 at Sport Direct’s headquarters in Shirebrook, Derbyshire (NG20 8RY) is part of a national day campaign day against the retailer’s ‘Victorian’ work practices, with protests and Valentines cards set to be handed in to over 35 Sports Direct stores from Truro to Newcastle.

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’. 

A Channel 4 Dispatches investigation in 2015 exposed a workforce in constant fear of losing their jobs with staff in the Shirebrook warehouse named and shamed over a tannoy for not working fast enough. A separate BBC investigation found that ambulances were called to the Shirebrook site more than 80 times in two years.

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner 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 the retailer it’s time for them to clean its act up.   

“Football fans from Newcastle and Rangers have also made their feelings known, while investors and business groups, like the Institute of Directors, have voiced their continued and deep concern. 

“Sports Direct cannot match billionaire boss Mike Ashley’s promise of becoming a model employer by merely paying lip service to reviewing employment practices and giving pitiful pay rises. 

“The problems run far deeper. Sports Direct needs a fundamental rethink of its corporate governance and the way it treats its staff if it’s to repair its tarnished reputation and damaged share price. 

“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.”


For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors:

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.