Sports Direct boss blames poor treatment of workers on… trade union Unite

Mike Ashley makes concessions, but points finger at stormy meeting


Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has blamed his company’s rap sheet of failures on trade union Unite, which represents the workers he has exploited.

In a stormy meeting of the retail firm’s shareholders, Ashley responded to criticism from Steve Turner, Unite’s assistant general secretary, by saying the union was ‘probably’ responsible for the company’s woes.

Sports Direct has been forced to admit ‘serious shortcomings’ over its treatment of staff after Guardian reports exposed harsh conditions at a Sports Direct warehouse.

The company has promised to offer 12-hour contracts to zero hours workers and pay a national living wage to all employees.

But according to the Guardian, when Turner suggested few would take up the contracts offer, given they are already overworked, Ashley replied:

‘This is probably your fault we are in this situation because we can’t talk to you in an open manner.

I’ve made a commitment to make a difference and I’m trying so don’t pull me down.’

He added:

‘Don’t do the whole showboating thing. It will make me turn away and the only people who suffer are people that work at Sports Direct.’

Ashley was grilled by MPs in June over Sports Direct’s treatment of workers, where the founder and majority shareholder admitted to paying less than minimum wage.

As the company’s share price tumbles, Ashley has made a range of concessions, including a workers’ representative on its board.

See: Sports Direct forced to pay £1million to workers after Unite campaign

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