Thursday, October 17News For London

Sports Direct reacts to media allegations

In recent weeks there have been several reports about Sports Direct and its conditions for its employees. The retailer has been under scrutiny for some time, but the company denies allegations about bad working conditions which came under scrutiny in recent reports.

Sports Direct branch at Oxford Street picture: Arthur Renard
Sports Direct branch at Oxford Street                                                                   picture: Arthur Renard

In the last few months Sports Direct has been subject to different investigations by UK media. In the most recent one, conducted by The Guardian at a warehouse in Derbyshire, it said there were many people on zero hour contracts and some of them were said to be under the minimum wage level.

A spokesperson for the company said regarding these allegations that they do everything in accordance to regulations. “Sports Direct believes it’s in compliance with minimum wage regulations and takes its responsibilities extremely seriously. Our casual workers are also an integral component of our workforce. To be clear, no warehouse workers are on ‘zero hour’ contracts, all have contracted hours with the agencies. In retail, casual workers find the flexibility offered by these arrangements very useful.”

 That was also mentioned by Rachel Goldsworthy in the Evening Standard, shop manager of the Sports Direct Branch at Oxford Street. “I know there has been a lot of negative press about our casual workers but we actually enable a lot of people to work who wouldn’t otherwise be able to do so without the flexibility that we offer. We have people who come in during the evenings or just in the mornings so that they can fit their working day around other commitments like childcare or studying.”

Nevertheless there were critical sounds about the conditions of the warehouses, as a parliamentary meeting was held on Monday. Former business minister Chuka Umunna said in The Guardian the retailer was “a bad advert for British business” and said it had “a culture of fear in the workplace that we would not wish to see repeated elsewhere”.

Sports Direct denied this as well, were it claims that it has spoken internally about some matters: “A number of issues were raised by shareholders at our AGM which we have addressed, for example the inconvenience experienced by some warehouse workers from the logistics of the security process when exiting the warehouse.  Following a review the process has been streamlined which has led to a reduction in waiting time.”