Link to this page: https://secure.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/905/22973
Exploitation Britain: Unionise and fight for a living wage
Conditions in a warehouse used by online fashion retailer Asos have been described as "sickening". Workers testified to facing oppressive security, guarded toilets, searches, and a 'flexi-time' system which can demand they work extra hours without notice or force the use of their holiday allocation when hours are not available.
Efforts by the GMB to unionise against this treatment have failed to be recognised by the employer.
A similar regime of surveillance and dehumanisation has also been revealed at Sports Direct's Shirebrook warehouse, with thousands of temporary agency workers receiving below minimum wage.
Low wages, zero-hour contracts and shift patterns have left millions of workers and their families in a constant state of insecurity and instability.
It is these factors which sustain poverty and desperation and actually increase the potential of the merchandise theft, so feared by these companies.
The nature of these workplaces serves to confirm this. Sports Direct major shareholder, Mike Ashley, agreed to appear for questioning before MPs regarding these revelations only after stating that continued bad press could harm the Sports Direct brand, declaring he had "nothing to hide".
Ashley defended his company's practices before the parliamentary select committee saying: "I'm not Father Christmas". Too true! Scrooge is a more apt description.
The pugnacious billionaire went on to reveal his dictatorial anti-worker mentality: "I can do a better job for Sports Direct employees than Unite."
We disagree. The fight must continue to effectively unionise these workplaces, and protect workers from shameless exploitation by ending zero-hour contracts and bringing in a £10 minimum wage now without exception.
In The Socialist 8 June 2016:
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