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Sports Direct sued over controversial contracts

A member of a crowd-sourced legal website is suing Sports Direct over its use of controversial zero hour contracts.

The retailer has been in the news recently, with some activists and charity workers claiming that it has exploited workers by not offering them a set number of hours per week.

While these contracts can sometimes be beneficial for staff members looking for increased flexibility, Zahera Gabriel-Abraham, a member of the 38 Degrees legal funding website, will argue in court it is illegal and breaches human rights.

If she wins the case it is expected the entire labour market landscape of the UK will be completely overhauled and unemployment rates will rise rapidly, as many people that are not working, or are employed in the grey market economy, are represented in key statistics as being in work.

Robin Priestley, 38 Degrees campaigner, has called on people to help fund Ms Gabriel-Abraham's case and contribute enough to cover a £10,000 fee that is likely to be needed to ensure legal representation is possible.

More than 120,000 emails have been sent by members of the organisation to Sports Direct asking that they improve their treatment of staff by giving out fairer contracts, but it isn't just the sporting goods retailer they are targeting.

McDonald's and even the National Health Service have all been implicated in the use of the unstable contracts and this can often leave workers without proper holiday time or lunch breaks.

It is also substantially easier to fire staff members that have signed on to a zero hours agreement and this has angered unions and left-wing campaign groups, which argue the government is validating predatory corporate practices across the UK.

Mr Priestley said: "If enough of us chip in just £1 each to raise the money, it will send a powerful message to Sports Direct and their billionaire owner, who will have deep pockets to fund their legal team.  

"They will see that they are heading to court to not just to face one ex-employee standing up for her colleagues' rights, but an army of 38 Degrees members."

By Chris Stevenson