Zero hours contract scandal

We demand real jobs and a living wage

The scandal of Sports Direct employing their entire part-time workforce (90% of employees) on zero hours contracts has been exposed this week.

At the same time they are paying huge bonuses in the forms of shares to 2,000 staff. But the bonus scheme only applies to full-time workers – mostly supervisors or managers.

And managers are apparently allowed to exclude workers from the bonus scheme for ‘under-performing’.

The workers on zero hours don’t know how many hours they will get to work from one week to the next, making it impossible to plan ahead or pay normal household expenses. They are also not entitled to sick pay or holiday pay.

This precarious existence is experienced by hundreds of thousands of workers – even the government statistics office ONS admit that over 200,000 are on such contracts and nearly half of those are 16-24.

These figures are rising as the bosses pass the effects of their crisis onto the workers at the bottom of the employment pile.

A combination of zero hours contracts, plus working hours and bonuses which can be arbitrarily withdrawn as a disciplinary measure, creates a bullying climate of fear in many workplaces.

Laurence, a young worker from south London is on a zero hours contract.

He told the Socialist: “The biggest things for me are that it makes it impossible to plan what you’re doing on a week to week basis.

“That means it’s socially inconvenient but obviously you don’t know what money you’ll have anyway.

“It’s impossible to navigate the benefits system, which is designed for people who are on a fixed income. You can’t tell them how much you earn.”

But there is a fight back. Youth Fight for Jobs has launched the “Are You Sick of Your Boss” campaign.

They will be protesting in London outside Sports Direct in Oxford Street on 3 August and spreading the protests around the country.

Youth Fight for Jobs spokesperson Ian Pattison said: “We won’t win proper contracts with guaranteed hours by asking nicely.

“Around the country, we will be marching straight into Sports Direct stores speaking directly to staff about how they can fight and strike for better rights and conditions.”

Youth Fight for Jobs demands:

  • Proper contracts, guaranteed hours and full employment rights
  • Pay us enough to live on
  • Decent tea and lunch breaks
  • End ‘fire at will’
  • We won’t be used as cheap or free labour
  • We have the right to get organised at work
  • Scrap the anti-trade union laws
  • Build democratic campaigning trade unions
  • No to benefit cuts
  • Fight sexism and discrimination in the workplace
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