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Sports Direct and zero-hour contract workers speak out!

Sports Direct and zero-hour contract workers speak out!

[caption id="attachment_807" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Youth Fight for Jobs protest against zero-hour contract Sports Direct on Oxford Street - photo by Ian Pattison"]Youth Fight for Jobs protest against zero-hour contract Sports Direct on Oxford Street - photo by Ian Pattison[/caption]

Helen Pattison, London Youth Fight for Jobs

"When I worked a 12-hour shift on a zero-hour contract for a pub chain without a break, and complained it was illegal, my hours were cut.

"When a fellow campaigner tried to unionise staff at his workplace on a zero-hours contract he wasn’t fired, which would be illegal - he just didn’t get any hours, week after week. That is why big businesses like zero-hour contracts.

"Youth Fight for Jobs has no faith in Nick Clegg, Vince Cable or the Labour Party, who all have pushed for a “flexible” labour market for decades.

"Trade unions must take up this issue and organise workers to campaign for decent contracts, pay and working conditions. With one million on zero-hour contracts and millions poorly treated and bullied at work, workers in Britain need to realise their strength.

"We should take a lead from fast food workers in the US. Co-ordinated days of action starting in New York and spreading out across the country have included strikes at McDonalds, KFC, and Burger King. Some pizza workers have won the right to organise in a union. Staffs who were illegally dismissed have been reinstated."

Gareth (who has been on zero-hour contracts for the last 4 years)

"I am a 20 year old, who has been working for both the NHS and in Social Care local councils, for 4 years, my entire working life. In this time, I have never had a paid holiday, I have never received sick pay and I have never worked a contracted hour. I work pay-cheque to pay cheque; I do not get any sort of job security or regular pay. One week I could work four or five shifts, the next one or none at all, and going six weeks without work is not uncommon. I have no control over when I work, and can be called in anything up to an hour before the start of a shift. I have no idea when the call will come, so it is almost impossible to claim benefits.

"Originally I started work to gain experience and to pay my way through education. I was unable to claim EMA, despite receiving no other financial support. I had to support a partner; the choice between gas and electric made everything difficult, and my education suffered. I now live with my parents, and I’m earning money to pay rent. It is almost impossible to save or plan for anything, because the money that I earn might have to last me for months.

"Recently the spotlight has been shone on zero-hour contracts and under-employment. The mainstream media has picked them up, Nick Clegg and his Lib-Dem cronies have announced that they will “look into these practices”. But, the Lib-Dems, Tories, and the Labour Party have supported neo-liberalism for years. They call for a “flexible” workforce, but the ‘flexibility’ is always for bosses, never for us. Zero-hour contracts are a way for the ruling class to further control and exploit young workers, who are often non-unionised and have no other way to make a living. The Financial Times said if we want capitalism, than we’re going to have to put up with zero-hour contracts. If the capitalist system can’t afford to give us proper contracts, then we can’t afford the capitalist system!”

Former Sports Direct worker Kieran Grogan

"There has been media frenzy over zero-hour contracts, why has this only recently come to light?

"My working life started off at Sports Direct around 2004 as a 15 year old school boy. Of course it was minimum wage and yes it was a zero-hour contract.

"From school, I trained as a joiner and endured an apprenticeship, again with what felt like master and servant conditions. After my apprenticeship I was subject to more harsh conditions working on various construction sites for horrible, blacklisting firms such as Carillon and agencies like Heyes.

"Zero-hour contracts really do leave you at the mercy of your employer and are very similar to agency work. Neither has any guaranteed hours; no sick pay, no holidays, and no redundancy pay. If you dare to ask for a day off or if can’t work a shift that you are offered, you’ll soon find whatever little work you had is reduced or nothing at all the next week. All around us we see terms and conditions being slashed, this is a race to the bottom, yet another in a long line of Tory attacks.

"Today I saw an employer on the news defending using zero-hour contracts in the care home he ran, because of council cuts to grants. Zero-hour contracts thriving in the care sector mean some of the most vulnerable people in society are suffering under illegal low level of staffing or support. Bosses at greedy private-sector vultures like Southern Cross make massive bonuses while quality of care suffers.

"A ‘flexible’ labour market is used as an excuse to employ zero-hour contracts that can be used to victimised health & safety reps and trade unionists. Trade unions need to organise unorganised workers so we struggle against zero-hour contracts to stop us descending back towards ‘master and servant’ conditions.

Friday 9th August
Sports Direct HQ
Shirebrook, North Derbyshire
protesting down the road at Shirebrook Market Place

Friday 9th August
meet at McDonalds on the High Street

Saturday 10th August
Sports Direct

Saturday 10th August
march to name & shame zero-contract employers
Oxford Street
meet at Tottenham Court Road tube station at 12pm

Saturday 10th August
Sports Direct

Saturday 17th August

Saturday 24th August
Youth Fight for Jobs zero-hour Walk of Shame
march through Bristol city centre to name & shame zero-hour contract employers


email to get your protest advertised

For more info contact Youth Fight for Jobs on 02085587947
catch us on facebook ‘Youth Fight for Jobs’
follow us on twitter @youthfight4jobs #soyb
OR text JOIN, plus your name & postcode to 07749379010