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JD Sports warehouse ‘worse than a prison’

Retailer to investigate ‘degrading’ conditions

RETAILER JD Sports is to investigate working conditions at its warehouse in Rochdale, it announced yesterday after a Channel 4 report branded the facility “worse than a prison.”

Workers at the Kingsway distribution warehouse can be sacked on a “three strikes and you’re out” basis for rule breaches such as sitting down, chewing gum, having a mobile phone and arriving late, the report found.

Employees are also not paid for queuing outside at the beginning of their shift and those on zero-hours contracts can be sent home if management decides there is not enough work, the report said.

The TUC said Channel 4 had revealed “degrading” conditions at the warehouse.

JD Sports said it did not believe the allegations to be an “accurate reflection of our culture” but would investigate anyway — and is to implement an “urgent” retraining programme for supervisors and security staff.

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.

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

Rival retailer Sports Direct, owned by billionaire Mike Ashley, came under fire earlier this year for working conditions at its warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire.

The tycoon was hauled before MPs and admitted that some staff were paid below the minimum wage.

Ms O’Grady called on the government “to look seriously at how this sort of behaviour continues to take place in today’s Britain.

She added: “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.”

JD Sports said after the Channel 4 programme was screened that it was “deeply disappointed and concerned by the footage broadcast,” but went on: “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.”

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