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This Sporting Life Damages Health

07 October 2015 | Updated 01 January 1970

The controversial employment practices of Sports Direct has come under the spotlight with news of ambulances being called to its warehouse ‘dozens of times’.

A BBC investigation published on Monday, following a Freedom of Information request into the Shirebrook facility in Derbyshire, has revealed that 76 ambulances or paramedic cars were sent between January 2013 and December 2014.

Complaints about the attitude of management to workers have led to demonstrations with workers stating they were “too scared” to take sick leave, one woman giving birth in a toilet and 36 cases of ‘life threatening’ cases, e.g. strokes and convulsions. The BBC has passed on its information to the Health & Safety Executive.

Sports Direct which was founded by the controversial owner of Newcastle FC, Mike Ashley, has had a record of being accused of a harsh environment for staff, many of whom are agency workers on zero-hour contracts. According to the trades union Unite, as many as 3,000 agency staff are working at the Derbyshire warehouse complex with one agency using a so-called ‘six-strike’ policy leading to dismissal from working there that include:


  • Excessive or long toilet breaks.

  • Using a mobile phone in the warehouse.

  • Excessive chatting.

  • Period of reported sickness.


Sports Direct has refuted the allegations made by the BBC and issued a statement where it argued it was meeting its obligations: ‘Sports Direct aims to provide working conditions in compliance with applicable employment and health and safety legislation and seeks to provide safe working conditions for all staff working in our warehouse. We have a good working relationship with our local environmental health officer and we work together to maintain and improve the safety of our working conditions.’

Picture: A BBC investigation has discovered a high call for ambulances to Sports Direct’s warehouse facility in Derbyshire and follows a number of complaints against the company, including the use of zero-hour contracts

Article written by Mike Gannon | Published 07 October 2015


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