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It’s a hard slog but Unite has already made tangible gains towards improving the working conditions of Sports Direct’s Shirebrook workforce. We won’t rest until Sports Direct staff are given proper recognition and full working rights

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Steve Turner Unite AGS

Delivering hope – Unite and Unite Community fighting bad jobs at Sports Direct, Shirebrook

hospitality and housekeeping services, WGC, partnered with the union and ended its use of zero hour contracts. Unite is working on similar initiatives with other hospitality service providers and an international hotel chain.

But not all employers are willing to improve conditions or right injustice for their staff. When workers are involved in industrial action or during campaigns against rogue employers, Unite Community activists can – and do – regularly provide assistance.

“We’ve had more than 80 days of industrial action (over pay) this year. Unite Community stood shoulder to shoulder with us during that time. The support they gave us was amazing,” reports Unite British Airways rep

Zimeon Jones, on the now resolved dispute.

Indeed Unite Community has also been vital to the Sports Direct campaign, with branches across the country staging protests outside the firm’s stores. Recently, Unite Community members joined demonstrations in support of McDonald’s workers who are on strike for the first time in UK history over zero hour contracts and low pay.

Unite Community’s Ellen Morrison believes the fight for decent jobs is dependent on shared goals and solidarity.

“There are huge parallels between the (Sports Direct and McDonald’s) campaigns. We’re starting a movement – we’re not only showing the government,

25 uniteWORKS Autumn 2017

we’re showing employers too that we won’t tolerate what they’re doing to us.”

Along with legal successes and a groundswell of grassroots activity, Unite’s fightback against bad work has taken ground politically too. Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership has reinvigorated the Labour Party. It gained 30 new MPs during this summer’s general election, leaving the Tories with a minority government unable to wield significant power.

“As well as strong trade unions, working people need legislative changes to ensure a fair deal. That means sectoral collective bargaining, a £10 minimum wage, the banning of zero hour contracts and an end to self-employment and agency abuses,” commented Steve Turner. “Labour will help us achieve that.”

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