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Say No to Zero Hours Contracts

3rd January 2015

Say No to Zero Hours Contracts

LRC Members in London started the year on January 2nd with a campaign against zero hours contracts at Sports Direct in Brent Cross.

Sports Direct is owned by billionaire Mike Ashley. 90% of the 17,000 workers at the stores are on zero hours contracts. According to the Sunday Times Rich List Ashley is ‘worth’ £3.5bn. LRC members have a different view of what he is worth.

A zero hours contract means Sports Direct workers get no sick pay, no holiday pay, no paid maternity leave and none of the rights that workers get with a regular contract of employment. Their conditions of employment are completely insecure.

Despite the fact that they have no guarantee of paid work at Sports Direct, employees have to seek permission from management to get a job elsewhere. Their contract reads, “If you wish to undertake any work outside the company, whether paid or unpaid, you should raise the matter with your manager ... it may be decided that the additional work would conflict with your duties at Sports Retail Limited. You would then be prevented from taking it up.”

Zero hours contracts are the modern equivalent of the sort of casual labour that was standard at workplaces like the docks. Workers lined up at 6 in the morning for the privilege of being selected for a day’s work. The unlucky ones went home without pay. We got rid of that system with the decasualisation of dock labour. Now it’s back. Instead of queuing up outside the workplace zero hours contract workers wait for the phone to ring. It’s back to the nineteenth century.

LRC members went into the Brent Cross outlet with leaflets and petitions, explaining to potential shoppers the sort of conditions Sports Direct staff have to put up with. Once their work conditions were explained there was wide sympathy for the workers.  Inevitably we were intercepted by security and, after an altercation, had to continue our protest outside the shop. We believe we made our point and will continue to campaign against zero hours contracts.

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