Sports Direct has failed to make good on promises it made last year to ensure casual workers were offered guaranteed hours instead of zero-hours contracts.
Following a damaging expose into poor working conditions at Mike Ashley’s sportwear giant last year, Sports Direct pledged in a report that it would introduce measures to reduce its reliance on controversial zero-hours contracts.
It also promised to test a scheme to transfer 10 warehouse staff a month from agency contracts to direct employment.
Despite this, workers’ union Unite has accused the retailer of failing to implement any of these measures, and still advertised for roles which didn’t guarantee any working hours.
“This revelation shows it is ‘business as usual’ at Sports Direct and casts doubt on just how sincere it is about cleaning up its act,” Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said.
“One year on Sports Direct has been caught redhanded breaking its promise to offer workers the security of knowing what hours they will work and how much they will earn from week to next.
“It blows a hole in Sports Direct’s commitment to treat workers with dignity and respect.”
Sports Direct stated in a trading update that its “research found that in common with surveys by other companies, the vast majority of our casual staff wish to remain on flexible arrangements”.
It also appointed a workers’ representative to its board earlier this year in an effort to ensure workers’ agendas were represented at the boardroom level.
This comes at a crucial time for the retailer, who will hold its annual general meeting (AGM) tomorrow.
Owner Mike Ashley also cancelled the “open day” which last year saw him spark controversy by flashing a wad of £50 notes at a mock security check as part of a demonstration largely aimed at quashing criticisms of workers being underpaid.
He also said he would not attend the AGM.
Meanwhile, chairman Keith Hellawell is likely to be ousted, having been saved from a shareholder revolt last year thanks to Ashley’s vote and majority ownership of Sports Direct.
Hellawell promised to step down from the position if he was faced with a vote of no confidence again this year.
Investors have recently been rallying against the chairman, calling on other shareholders to vote against his reappointment.
Today, one of the Sports Direct’s largest shareholders Fidelity International, which represents nearly six per cent of the business, announced it plans to vote against both Hellawell and his potential successor Simon Bentley.