A flashmob against Sports Direct’s employment policies struck at the firm with a hilarious choral hymn, with a very serious message.
Gathering casually in front of the leading sports retailer’s Chesterfield store, they serenaded boss Mike Ashley, regaling tales of zero hours, workers sacked for sickness and mums giving birth on the factory floor.
And there was a very festive feel as the chorus of Chesterfield’s Unite Community group started singing “Exploitation!” to the tune of ‘Bread of Heaven’, having devised their own lyrics by Unite member Colin Hampton.
Colin told us after the flashmob on November 20: “We thought that doing a flash mob was more effective than leafletting, to raising awareness of what people are experiencing there.
“The exploitation of their workers makes them unfit to sell football shirts to all the fans out there, so we emulated the football chants. “You’re not fit to sell the shirt.”
Colin added: “When they put such a big investment into a former mining area we wanted to see good jobs, but that’s not what we’ve got. We want Sports Direct to talk to the trade union and improve their image by improving their working practices, which will be better for both their workforce and their shareholders in the long run.
So the group called out the firm, singing: “Workers came from throughout Europe, keen to earn their daily bread. Decent jobs were what they wanted... they got Sports Direct instead.”
The very tuneful demonstration follows revelations that suggested the company operate a strike system for workers who turn up late or call in sick, undergo demeaning searches as they leave work and many may have been worked into illness, with a high number of ambulance calls to the site last year.
Sports Direct were not available for comment but have said previously they aim to provide safe working conditions for all warehouse staff and take any allegation that they may have breached health and safety or employment regulations very seriously.
Sign the group’s petition to change workers’ conditions at Sports Direct here.