1 August 2013
No to zero hours contracts: action against Sports Direct
Unite the Resistance, a union-based campaigning group that seeks to raise opposition to austerity and its effects, will take action this weekend against Sports Direct.
Last week it emerged that the retailer employs 20,000 staff on zero hours terms. Two days later the Guardian established that Buckingham Palace, the royal family’s London residence, hires workers using this method. Thirteen local councils out of 32 in London are also using the contracts.
Zero hours contracts mean workers have no guaranteed weekly hours or income, and are only being paid for the hours that they do work. Bosses use zero hours contracts to cut wages, and avoid holiday pay and pensions. Workers are also unable to take on other work, as they are obliged to be available for work at the whim of the employer. And with the high level of insecurity comes the risk of bullying, harassment and stress.
Zero hours contracts are on the rise having almost doubled in the last five years. The latest data shows some 208,000 people are now “employed” on zero hours contracts, and these figures underestimate the reality as many people do not know they are on them.
UtR joint national secretary Jane Aitchison says, “These contracts are a throwback to the casual employment of workers in Victorian Britain. They are a growing threat to workers’ rights. The gains that workers have made since the Second World War are being stripped away by the government and the profit-hungry employers. We need a big campaign backed by the trade unions to eliminate zero hours contracts and win secure jobs with decent pay.”
UtR will be holding protests at several Sports Direct stores:
London: Saturday, 3 August. 12 noon, Oxford Street: The Plaza, 116-128 Oxford Street, W1D 1LT. Youth Fight for Jobs have also called for people to protest at the Oxford Street site.
Birmingham: Saturday 3 August, 2pm, Sports Direct, opposite Indoor Market
Cambridge: Saturday 3 August, 11am, Lion Yard entrance St Andrews Street
Bristol: Wednesday 7 August, 5.30pm, 13-15 Broadmead Bristol, Avon BS1 3HF