Issue date
16 Aug 2016

Sports Direct sees nearly twice times the number of injuries compared to the rest of the sector, according to a letter published today (Tuesday) advocating a shareholders vote in favour of an independent review on how workers are treated.

Staff in the retail, office and distribution section of the company face 2.7 injuries per 100,000 hours worked – nearly twice as many as the average for the sector (1.4 per 100,000 hours). 

Sports Direct’s warehouse staff face an even higher rate, with 6.6 injuries per 100,000 hours worked. This is nearly three times the rate of injuries in agriculture, one of the least-safe sectors for workers.

Salaried staff at the company also have a much higher turnover rate than normal. 22% of its staff left in the last financial year, compared to an industry average of just 8%.

The letter, by the Trade Union Share Owners group, asks fellow shareholders to vote for a resolution tabled at the Sports Direct AGM, calling for the board to commission an independent review of the company’s employment practices and report to shareholders within six months.

Sports Direct management oppose the resolution.

Commenting on the findings, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“Sports Direct has shown a consistent disregard for the wellbeing of its staff. These abysmal figures show that the company is performing far worse than other companies in the same sector.

“It’s time for Sports Direct to shape up. An independent investigation is a necessary first step to fixing the endemic problems at Sports Direct.”

The author of the letter, TUSO chair Janet Williamson said:

“Sports Direct’s practices are not only bad for workers, but pose a long-term risk to investors, both in terms of claims against the company and reputational damage. 

“It is the responsibility of shareholders to show the Sports Direct workforce and the public that they understand that the business must change. This is a critical vote for UK corporate governance and investors’ response to this resolution will be watched closely.

“Shareholders should support our resolution calling for an independent review of the company’s employment practices. Our resolution offers a proactive, practical solution to a long-standing problem. Responsible investors will vote in favour of resolution 19 at the AGM.”

NOTES TO EDITORS: 
- The full letter to shareholders can be read here: bit.ly/TUSOSportsDirect 
- Injury rates were published in August 2016 by Sports Direct, on page 32 of Sports Direct’s Annual Report: bit.ly/2aXh1dN. Sectoral injury rates are based on Health and Safety Executive figures: bit.ly/HSESportsDirect. Turnover rates are also based on the 2016 Sports Direct Annual Report, page 18: bit.ly/2aXh1dN. The estimated average turnover for the UK is based on 2015 analysis by the CIPD: bit.ly/2aXgRxo 
- The Trade Union Share Owners (TUSO) group is a group of investors representing the financial assets of the labour movement, including the TUC staff pension fund, the Unite staff pension fund, the UNISON staff pension fund, and the International Transport Workers’ Federation. 
 - The resolution has been filed by investors including the TUC and UNISON staff pension funds, both members of TUSO, and the Borough of Islington Staff Pension Fund and Prospect general fund.