Britain's largest union, Unite welcomed today's (Tuesday 20 September) announcement by Sports Direct to hold an independent review into working practices and corporate governance.
The change of heart follows a resolution tabled by Trade Union Share Owners (TUSO) at the retailer's recent annual general meeting which secured the unprecedented backing of a majority of independent shareholders.
Calling on the Sports Direct board to work with Unite to repair confidence and restore dignity in the workplace, Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “At last Mike Ashley and his board have grasped that they need to take some very serious steps to restore shareholder, consumer and worker confidence in their employment practices.
“We have always urged, as we did at this year’s AGM with the backing of investors, that an independent review is a vital component of this company truly getting to grips with its many and serious employment problems, so we are pleased that the company has now seen sense.
"We offer every assistance in the next steps in Sports Direct’s journey towards fair employment, including with this review, and call on Mr Ashley to recognise the benefits of working with the union during this process as an essential way to build faith with the workforce.
“We will continue to make the case that only with decent, direct employment right across the business can this company truly convince its stakeholders and the watching world that it is genuine about making the much-needed changes to practices that have shocked people everywhere."
On Sports Direct's move to end zero hours contracts Steve Turner called on the government to follow the lead of the New Zealand where the government has banned their use, saying: “Increasingly businesses are recognising that they have no place in the modern workplace and are bad for workers, bad for business and bad for the economy. The government should now show leadership and follow the lead of government's like New Zealand and ban zero hours contracts."
Unite has been campaigning for a ban in the use of zero hours contracts which are widely regarded as bringing insecurity and ill treatment to workplaces. According to a recent poll for Unite, most people want the government to introduce a ban on zero hours contracts. Six in ten said they should be outlawed, including a 55 per cent of Conservative voters and 71 per cent of Labour voters.
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.