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Sports Direct pledge welcomed but concerns it's 'too little, too late'

Staff in the warehouse during a tour of the Sports Direct headquarters in Shirebrook, Derbyshire. Photo: PA

Full report by ITV News Central reporter Chris Halpin

Sports Direct will offer its casual retail staff guaranteed hours instead of zero-hours contracts and ensure all warehouse staff are paid above the National Minimum Wage following a review into working practices at the retailer.

Here is how people have been responding:

  • TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said:

An apology is always a good start, but this is too little, too late. What we really need is an independent investigation, as called for by the trade union resolution at tomorrow's Sports Direct AGM. A report written by a law firm which previously represented Mike Ashley and management simply won't cut it. Sports Direct cannot be allowed to mark their own homework.

– Frances O'Grady
  • Resolution Foundation policy analyst Conor D'Arcy said:

Today's report into working practices at Sports Direct highlights the pernicious effect of job insecurity on people's lives. The move to offer guaranteed hours to staff on zero-hours contracts is welcome and one that government should consider more widely, especially for those who have been on ZHCs for long periods of time."

However, the fact that most staff at the Shirebrook warehouse are actually on agency books shows that there are many forms of employment contract at the bottom end of the British labour market that need closer scrutiny.

– Conor D'Arcy
  • Jon Trickett, Labour's shadow business secretary, said:

These are good steps forward from a company whose Dickensian working practices have shocked the country. I hope this isn't the last word from Mr Ashley, and that we can look forward to further such announcements in coming weeks, particularly regarding warehouse staff.

But we cannot rely on bad publicity to stamp out every instance of employers mistreating their staff. The Tory Government need to follow Labour's lead and commit to banning zero-hours contracts and other exploitative practices in the workplace.

– Jon Trickett
  • Co-leader of the Green Party Jonathan Bartley said:

I'm delighted to hear that Sports Direct, who I named and shamed in my speech to Green Party conference last week, are ending their use of zero-hour contracts and will now pay their staff a better wage - although we will have to wait and see whether the working conditions in warehouses improve too. This kind of brutal employment practice exposes the razor-sharp edges of the so-called 'gig economy', and this decision has not come a moment too soon.

It's time for companies like Deliveroo and Uber to follow suit by ending their use of bogus self-employment contracts and guaranteeing staff decent pay, sick leave and job security.

– Jonathan Bartley
  • A Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy spokesman said:

Everybody deserves to be treated with dignity and respect at work. As its own report has recommended, the company must now resolve its working practice issues as quickly as possible.

– Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

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