Protesters rally outside Barnstaple Sports Direct against zero-hour contracts

Green party and Labour supporters rallied outside Sports Direct in Barnstaple this morning (Thurs).

Green party and Labour supporters rallied outside Sports Direct in Barnstaple this morning (Thurs). - Credit: Archant

Around a dozen Green and Labour Party supporters joined together to protest against the zero-hour contracts offered by Sports Direct and other retailers.

LABOUR and Green Party supporters rallied outside Barnstaple’s Sports Direct store ton Thursday morning to protest against zero-hour contracts.

The ‘radical coalition’ formed outside the store at 11am with a dozen protesters waving placards claiming zero-hours contracts are an ‘exploitation’ of workers.

Despite meeting outside of the Sports Direct store, those gathered were rallying against the policies employed by many retailers natiowide.

James Craigie, one of the Labour Party protesters, said he feared the contracts hit young people who were unaware of the problems they could face.

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“I volunteer at the Citizens Advice Bureau and we deal a lot with the consequences of these contracts, particularly with 17 and 18-year-olds,” he said.

“They don’t understand the system and get into debt because they can’t get enough hours.”

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Ruth Funnell, another protester, said her friend was on a zero-hour contract at a supermarket locally and was forced to work Saturday night shifts.

She said: “You can’t refuse the hours or you won’t get offered any shifts at all.”

Mark Cann, parliamentary spokesman for the North Devon Labour Party group, was one of the organisers of the protest.

He said: “Sports Direct’s entire 20,000 part-time workforce are employed on zero-hour contracts at a time when 2,000 full-time staff are about to cash in bonuses of up to £100,000.

“We are here today to draw attention to these highly exploitive contracts – they suit the company because it keeps people at the beck and call of their employers and leaves staff insecure, unsure of when work will come, and undermining family life.”

Ricky Knight, North Devon Green Party’s secretary, also helped to organise the protest.

He said: “I’m a local teacher who has just retired, and many of my students are in that working zero-hour contracts.

“They are desperate for work but it’s not fulfilling their aspirations or the aspirations I have for them as a teacher.

“They can’t plan even for next week’s groceries, let alone think about a mortgage, because they don’t know whow much work they will have.

“We weren’t trying to get people to boycott the store or anything like that, we are here to hightlight their national zero-hour policy and encourage them to change to at least a minimum hours contract.”

The group stood outside of the Sports Direct store for around half an hour. No one from the store attended the protest.

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