Sports Direct 'gulag' uses emojis to rate staff morale

Sports Direct 'gulag' uses emojis to rate staff morale

The Sports Direct warehouse once described as a “gulag” is asking staff to clock-in by pressing a touchpad featuring a happy or sad face emoji to indicate if they’re satisfied with conditions – Guardian reports.

Staffers at the scandal-ridden Shirebrook Warehouse in Derbyshire are being identified by their fingerprints and, if they’re unhappy, asked to explain their grievances to management.

The claims, laid out by trade union Unite, include allegations that if workers press the sad face emoji, they’re then asked if they’re sure about their decision. If they press it again, they can be asked to explain their dissatisfaction to managers.

Those who express discontent are identified by fingerprint recognition on the touchpad. Unite say that the system is “bogus” because staff are unlikely to be candid if there is the possibility that they could be singled out.

Steve Turner, Assistant General Secretary, Unite, added: “Put yourself in their shoes. Would you risk having hours withheld, possibly losing your job and being called in by management because you indicated dissatisfaction with your work environment?”

Whilst Frank Field, Labour MP and Chair of Work and Pensions Select Committee included his thoughts on the matter: “All it will reveal is how brave some staff are. We ought to extend it to MPs and see how they feel about Sports Direct.”

Turner also claimed that “gimmicks” do not paper over the cracks in working conditions standards at the retailer. He said: “Gimmicks like using emojis do not escape the fact that Sports Direct’s reliance on thousands of insecure agency workers still poses a reputational risk or that many are still owed money for non-payment of the minimum wage.”

Turners comments come as Mike Ashley’s firm were lambasted for failing to meet a pledge to offer guaranteed hours to shop workers and transferring warehouse staff to permeant contracts.

Key pledges including testing a scheme to transfer 10 warehouse staff a month from insecure agency contracts to Sports Direct employment and offering casual retail staff guaranteed hours.

Unite union say that the employers continue to advertise roles with “no guaranteed hours of work”. They also claim that there is no evidence Sports Direct is moving significant numbers of agency warehouse staff into direct employment.

Turner concluded: “One year on Sports Direct has been caught red-handed breaking its promise to offer workers the security of knowing what hours they will work and how much they will earn from week to next. It blows a hole in Sports Direct’s commitment to treat workers with dignity and respect.”



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