Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ashley Set to Oversee Review of Working Practices; RETAIL

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ashley Set to Oversee Review of Working Practices; RETAIL

Article excerpt

Byline: COREENA FORD coreena.ford@ncjmedia.co.uk

NEWCASTLE United owner and Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley will oversee a review of all agency worker terms and conditions after the company came under sustained pressure to improve working practices.

The retail giant has been criticised for its widespread use of zero hours contracts, under which staffdon't know how many hours they will work from one week to the next.

The Unite union has mounted a campaign against the company, holding demonstrations and briefing MPs in Parliament earlier this week, but Sports Direct defended itself against the criticism.

In a statement, the company said: "Sports Direct has sought to address questions relating to its employment practices on a case-by-case basis directly with the enquirer, but it has become evident that by doing so various parties have chosen to ignore the facts provided and have continued to present an unfair portrayal of the company's employment practices.

"Sadly, it is also now clear that some others have chosen to rely on this portrayal when making public statements about Sports Direct, rather than obtaining information directly from the company before commenting.

"The board takes its responsibilities towards all the company's stakeholders, be they staff, contractors, suppliers or customers, extremely seriously.

"Without our commitment to our staffand the implementation of a performance-led culture which encourages success, there is no way Sports Direct would have been able to grow from a single sports shop over 33 years ago to the global retailer it is today."

The board said it was making the statement to counter "unfounded criticisms" of its employment practices. MPs have called for an investigation into allegations that workers were paid below the minimum wage and were subjected to body searches.

The statement continued: "Sports Direct directly employs a number of staffin the Shirebrook warehouse. The remaining workers in the warehouse have contracts with one of two main agencies the company uses to staffthe warehouse. These contracts are on an agreed (between the worker and the agency) contracted hours basis. …

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