Campaigners calling for better working conditions for employees of a national sports retailer, descended on a busy Fife shopping centre today, to highlight their fight.
The Glenrothes branch of Sports Direct was the focus for around 20 campaigners from the Unite Union and supporting organisations including Fife People’s Assembly, who joined a co-ordinated UK-wide effort designed to highlight the plight of the company’s workforce.
Activists holding banners and placards gathered for about an hour outside the sports store in Unicorn Way inside the town’s Kingdom Shopping Centre, handing out leaflets to shoppers.
Police were called to the demonstration but the event passed off peacefully.
Despite there being a number of Sports Direct shops in Fife, the Glenrothes outlet was the only one targeted as part of what campaingers called a ‘day of action’.
“It was a resounding success, more so that we could have hoped for,” said Tam Kirby, secretary of Fife People’s Assembly.
“Around 500 leaflets were distributed to passing shoppers and I’d say around 99 per cent of them were supportive of what we were doing.
“We are here to highlight the zero hours contracts and the draconian working practices that some workers are subjected to.
“We had a year-long campaign that brought Sports Direct to say that it would review working practices, yet a year on and at the company’s AGM we now hear it’s ‘business as usual’, that’s why we are here again today.”
And Mr Kirby’s comments were echoes by John Gillespie, chairman of Unite Fife Area Activists, who said the public’s view, of what he called draconian working practices, was now turning against those companies which operate them.
“I was shocked by the level of public support today,” said Mr Gillespie.
“In the last year, and certainly since the last general election, we have seen a shift in public attitude towards workers rights.
“That is heartwarming and to see that in evidence with the public today was a vindication for what we were demonstrating about.”