Protest against Sports Direct working conditions held in Newbury
War on Want campaigners highlight 'precarious zero hours contracts'
CAMPAIGNERS held a day of action against a national company at Newbury Retail Park at the weekend.
War on Want staged the event against “precarious zero-hour contracts and disgraceful working conditions” at Sports Direct.
An investigation revealed that more than 80 per cent of employees were on zero-hour contracts and that many were paid below the minimum wage.
Company owner Mike Ashley was questioned by a select committee of MPs over “Victorian era” workshop conditions.
War on Want organised the national day of protest on Saturday, with 16 protests taking place across the country.
Sixteen local campaigners – formed from War on Want supporters, Green and Labour Party members, trade union members and members of the public – turned out.
Campaigners placed labels, designed to look like Sports Direct sales labels, on coat hangers in the shop so that customers could see what the protest was about.
East Ilsley activist Carolyne Culver, who used to work for War on Want, said that management asked staff to remove the labels.
A banner was hung outside the store and then taken on to the retail park roundabout, where campaigners encouraged drivers to toot their horns.
“Lots of people did,” Mrs Culver said.
“We spoke to people walking in and out of the store and encouraged them to contact their MP about the campaign.
“The response from the majority of shoppers was positive. But some said the staff should get other jobs if they're not happy.
“We reassured any staff who came out of the store that we were protesting in support of them. No managers emerged from the store to challenge us.”
The campaign preceded Sports Direct announcement on Tuesday that it would offer retail staff at least 12 guaranteed hours a week, instead of zero-hour contracts.
However, the offer did not apply to agency staff based at the company’s Shirebrook warehouse.
The company held its AGM on Wednesday and shareholders were encouraged to challenge Mr Ashley about working conditions.