September 6th: Responding to the publication of the RPC report into working practices at Sports Direct, Ireland deputy Regional Secretary for Unite, Jackie Pollock, said:
“We welcome today’s announcement by the Sports Direct board that they will work constructively with our union. They have committed themselves to real change, ending labour abuses and becoming an exemplary employer.
“Our members not only work for Sports Direct but shop at its outlets across the Britain and Northern Ireland. They will be heartened by the board’s recognition of the seriousness of the issues we have highlighted over the past months.
“Despite the welcome and significant progressive commitments in the report, such as the ending of zero hour contracts and the harsh ‘six strikes and you’re out’ disciplinary regime, Unite will be demanding that management go further and faster across a range of practices when we engage with the company.
“Unite has concerns over the use and behaviour of employment agencies used by Sports Direct in parts of the UK. We are calling on Sports Direct to move its entire workforce onto direct, permanent contracts.
“We will be seeking the end of short-hour contracts. In some places employees can be guaranteed less than seven hours a week.
“Without the campaigning work of Unite the abuses at Sports Direct would never have been brought to the public eye. Unfortunately, similar practices are all too common among employers across Northern Ireland.
“Being a member of a campaigning trade union is more vital today than it has been for generations.
“As Sports Direct expand their outlets across Northern Ireland, Unite will seek to work constructively with management to ensure it stays true to its promise to restore dignity and respect to its workers”, Mr Pollock concluded.