A BBC programme on the ‘draconian’ working conditions at a huge Sports Direct depot in Shirebrook in north-east Derbyshire is set to air tonight. The ‘Inside Out’ show will be broadcast on BBC One East Midlands at 19:30 and be available on the iPlayer for the next 30 days.
A local newspaper called the Chad was the first to report concerns about the massive Sports Direct warehouse in January 2014. Then the research team from BBC Inside Out made a Freedom of Information request to the East Midlands Ambulance Service. The figures this request unveiled were shocking and have been widely reported.
Over the space of two years, the number of ambulances and paramedic cars called to the site’s postcode had been a shocking 76! Almost half of these were classed as life threatening.
Serious Incidents at Sports Direct
Some of the extreme cases have included:
- head injuries
- pregnancy difficulties
- back injuries
- a fractured neck
- a crushed hand
- a stroke
Perhaps the most shocking revelation of all was that police were called to the Sports Direct Shirebrook headquarters when a worker had given birth in the staff toilets.
In the past financial year, the number of warehouse accidents has doubled. The company has attributed the increase in the number of accidents at work to building work that was occurring on-site increasing the footfall and decreasing the amount of workspace. Sports Direct has a duty of care to provide the 3,000+ agency workers in their warehouse with a safe working environment.
It has been alleged that staff are searched before they leave work each day and that the recruitment agency operates a six-strike policy that has made workers scared to take sick days for fear of being struck off. Sports Direct has rejected the idea that agency staff should be worried about losing their jobs if they call in sick and defended their sic-strike policy saying it is generous compared to other employers.
Agency workers typically have fewer employment rights than other workers or employees but should be treated no less favourably from day one. For more information see our Legal Advice Guide for Agency Workers.
Slater and Gordon’s Senior Personal Injury Solicitor Matthew Tomlinson said, “These reports of a significant increase in work accidents, a climate of fear within the workforce and apparent exploitation of a large number of agency workers are all extremely troubling. Sports Direct should be called to account to ensure immediate improvements are made for the benefit of the workforce”.