The Kingsway Business Park warehouse in Rochdale supplies all of JD Sports’ stores in the UK and abroad, employs 1,500 workers and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
According to Channel 4 News, the agency recruits are given zero-hour contracts with no guarantee of work, can be dismissed with no notice and are paid the minimum wage of £7.20. However, the intense security measures mean that these workers are effectively paid even less.
The JD Sports warehouse operates a high-security system involving CCTV cameras, electronic fingerprinting, metal detectors and constant searches by security staff. These measures also mean that staff must arrive at least 15 minutes early to make time to clear security – this time is unpaid. If workers are late to begin their shifts by even a minute they have their records marked.
It also takes another 15 minutes to exit the building at the end of shift, equating to half an hour a day unpaid.
Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Business Select Committee, who led the inquiry in to Sport Direct’s working conditions, says: “If you’re not being paid for the end of your shift and walking out through security and your pay is somehow being deducted for that, you could be being paid less than the minimum wage. That is an absolute disgrace and that needs to be investigated further.”
However, JD Sports have said: “Our people are paid for the period of security checks on exiting the building. Our time and attendance system records attendance in a manner which ensures that all time worked, which includes exit out of the security checking area, is paid for.”
Assist Recruitment and JD Sports also operate a “three strikes and you’re out” policy at the facility, as seen in the agency’s induction booklet.
However, these ‘strikes’ can be issued for minor offences such as; being caught with chocolate or lighters, ‘attitude’, lateness or chewing gum. While, having a mobile phone can result in instant dismissal, according to Channel 4 News.
Undercover footage shows a team leader boasting about sacking workers on the spot for sitting down through exhaustion. Because of this workers have said conditions are “worse than prison” and that “prisoners get more frigging respect.”
Wright comments on the conditions by saying: “I think they are treated like scum.
“If the supervisor doesn’t like the look of your face you could get a strike. It seems to be as a means to controlling the workers, and a means of coercing people into doing quite undignified things.
“I can produce a strike as a supervisor to you as a worker on any whim that I want. I can get rid of you at a moment’s notice. I’m just treating you like cattle, you are a commodity that just helps me make more money and I think that’s disgraceful.”
JD Sports has responded to Channel 4 News by saying: “We dispute that we operate anything other than a normal business disciplinary process at Kingsway. No member of security or supervisory staff should be using the emotive language of ‘strike’. Assist are responsible for the disciplinary process of their own staff.”
Assist Recruitment said JD Sports spoke on their behalf.