On Thursday the 23rd of February, I asked the Tory-led Wycombe District Council if they would take steps towards encouraging a strong trade union community within multi-billionaire corporations operating within the Wycombe area. During my question, I decided to focus on the Mike Ashley owned Sports equipment supplier that is Sports Direct, which does, and has for some years now, have a store in Wycombe Town Centre. Unfortunately, the Tories refused to acknowledge the need to apply additional pressures on businesses that operate in our local area and do not pay a decent wage.
Sports Direct is a prime example of why a strong trade union presence is needed in retail stores. The hourly wage in a Sports Direct store ranges from approximately £5.45 an hour to £6.80 an hour, depending on your age, role within the store, and experience. Not only does Sports Direct fail to pay a decent wage – whilst Mike Ashley rakes in profits of over £300m pound a year – they also fail to employ workers with the promise of decent hours. Quite literally thousands upon thousands of workers at Sports Direct are on zero-hour contracts, and those who aren’t are put on low-hour contracts to simply make the companies employment statistics look somewhere close to acceptable.
Zero-hour contracts are not only a problem in Sports Direct, however. A report from the TUC in September 2016 informed us that at least 900,000 people from Britain’s workforce are on zero-hour contracts. We must also remember, to add insult to injury that thousands, possibly even millions, may not be on zero-hour contracts, but are still suffering from a poor wage or job that does not guarantee them decent hours.
Not only are billionaire-run corporations being given tax-cuts by the Conservative government, they are also getting away with greedily refusing to employ people with a proper living wage. So, if the government aren’t going to help suffering workers, what can be done to combat such greed and injustice? Well, it appears to me, more so now than ever, that it is time for a strong trade union movement, particularly in retail stores. It is time for workers, not only in retail stores but workplaces everywhere, to have support and encouragement for when it comes to fighting for their rights as workers. With a strong trade union movement, it would apply added pressures on both central and local authorities to act for the needs of working people, and not the tax-dodging billionaires.
If you are interested in joining a trade union, I would highly recommend checking out this website: https://www.tuc.org.uk/join-union which has an online tool to help you decide which trade union is suitable for you depending on your sector of work.