JD Sports to investigate ‘prison’ condition allegations at warehouse

Investigation
JD Sports has refuted claims made in a five-week undercover investigation by Channel 4 that conditions in its Rochdale warehouse are “worse than a prison”.

The report, broadcast last week, claimed that JD Sports and agency supplying workers Assist Recruitment allowed harsh practices at the warehouse, including a “three strikes and you’re out” policy, intense surveillance and heightened job insecurity among agency workers.

The report will also show workers saying conditions at the site are “worse than a prison” and a team leader “boasting of sacking workers on the spot, for as little as sitting down through exhaustion”.

The retailer employs 1,232 workers at the site and is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by a combination of employees and agency staff.

JD Sports is to launch an investigation into conditions at its Kingsway warehouse facility, which supplies all of JD Sports’ stores in the UK and most of those abroad, as well as fulfilling online orders.

The retailer denied the claims, commenting in a stock exchange statement:

“We are deeply disappointed and concerned by the allegations being made which we believe are misleading and not an accurate reflection of our culture, the vast majority of our people or our standards of practice and procedures.

“Whilst we do not believe it to be an accurate reflection of our culture, the vast majority of our people or our standards of practice and procedures, we will be launching an investigation into the implementation of our policies at our Kingsway facility,”

“While we maintain that the policies and procedures in place are robust and fair, it is clear that we need to do better in their implementation. In the short term, we intend to retrain all supervisory and security employees at the facility, as a matter of urgency, to ensure that those policies are correctly reflected across the workplace.

JD Sports said it had a fully outlined disciplinary procedure and appeals process that applied to JD Sports employees and agency staff.

Channel 4 News showed the report to Iain Wright MP, chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial energy committee, who is heading a Commons inquiry into pay and conditions for low-paid workers.

He told the BBC he was “disgusted” by what appeared to be happening in the UK’s warehouse sector and that there was a sense that employees were being “treated like scum”.

He said JD company would be invited to give evidence to the Commons select committee.

Commenting on Channel 4’s exposure of working conditions at a JD Sports warehouse, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“These are degrading conditions to work in. The practices exposed at JD Sports show just how little value some companies attach to their staff.

“JD Sports’ initial response – denying the problems – doesn’t instil confidence.

“It’s increasingly clear that Sports Direct wasn’t just one bad apple, and that terrible working practices are taking place across the UK.

“The government needs to look seriously at how this sort of behaviour continues to take place in today’s Britain.

“Unions in workplaces can stamp out this sort of abuse. I would encourage anyone working in a warehouse like this to join a union and ensure that management cannot ignore their voice.”

 


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