Friday, August 05, 2016

Sports Direct: The Evil Workhouse: Union shareholders call for independent review of the inhuman employment practices at AGM

"The Trade Union Share Owners group (TUSO) has submitted a resolution to the Sports Direct AGM calling for an independent review of their widely criticised employment practices, which have led MPs to compare the company to a ‘Victorian workhouse’.

Details of the resolution were published today (Friday) in the company’s AGM notice. In the explanatory notes, the Sports Direct board recommends that its shareholders vote against the resolution, stating that it has asked its law firm RPC to compile a Working Practices Report.

Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of TUSO coalition member the TUC, said: “It is bitterly disappointing that the board of Sports Direct has declined to back the resolution. The board’s backing would have sent out a clear public message of reassurance to shareholders that it is serious about addressing deep-seated problems with its employment practices.

“We do not have confidence in the independence of any review led by Sports Direct’s own legal firm. And many of the shareholders we have spoken to share our view of the importance of a fully independent review as the only way to make sure that in future Sports Direct delivers fairness for staff, and decent returns for shareholders.

“We hope that asset managers invested in Sports Direct, who manage the capital of working people, will give the board a clear signal that change is needed by voting for the resolution. And we encourage the management of Sports Direct to continue constructive dialogue with the trade union Unite to improve conditions and respect for staff.”


- TUSO is a coalition of trade union funds (comprising the TUC, Unite, UNISON and the International Transport Workers Federation) with over £1.5bn assets on the capital markets, including shareholdings in Sports Direct.

- Resolution 19 to the Sports Direct AGM states: “That the board commissions an independent review of Sports Direct International plc’s human capital management strategy and report back to shareholders within six months.” Full explanatory notes along with the board’s full reasons for recommending rejection of the resolution are in the AGM notice for 2016 which can be downloaded from here:

- Sports Direct was heavily criticised in a report by the Business Innovation and Skills select committee that was published on 22 July 2016. For more information visit:

- Sports Direct is currently the subject of an investigation by HMRC into its failures to pay the minimum wage to some staff.
Hat tip TUC Website

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