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From The Socialist newspaper, 8 June 2016

Sports Direct protest - Selborne Walk, Walthamstow, 6 Feb 2016

Sports Direct protest - Selborne Walk, Walthamstow, 6 Feb 2016   (Click to enlarge)

Exploitation Britain: Unionise and fight for a living wage

Danny Williams

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.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
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In The Socialist 8 June 2016:


EU referendum

No to Tory and EU austerity

Youth must fight for their future

Northern Ireland: Biggest trade union supports EU exit

Letter to the Socialist: EU referendum

The socialist case against the EU: TUSC tour continues


Socialist history

China's 'Cultural Revolution' 1966-67


Socialist Party review

Music review: No to TTIP


Socialist Party news and analysis

Athens bus workers clean up

Exploitation Britain: Unionise and fight for a living wage

Muhammad Ali 1942-2016

Housing: Let's reclaim our right to dream again!

Nationalise the rip-off drug companies

Them & Us


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Link the strikes - come to the NSSN conference

Momentum Youth and Students: Witch hunts won't take movement forward

Tamil Solidarity Day

Student nurses march to oppose bursary cut

Pensioners fight ageist Tory cuts

Dangerous, dirty and damp: the unseen world of temporary accommodation


Socialist Party workplace news

RF Brookes walk out over pay cut

Pennine Foods strike: "Business NOT open as usual - Again!"

Junior doctors' dispute: New offer falls short

PCS campaign against Land Registry privatisation

Workplace news in brief


 

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