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[英伦广角] 2016-09-10 纽卡斯尔投资商SportsDirect就工作环境丑闻公开道歉

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The billionaire, founder of Sports Direct demonstrating the improved security check at his main warehouse. Casually taking out the wallet 50-pound notes, in a place which came under scrutiny for zero-hour contracts and paying below the national minimum wage.

This one time occlusive Mike Ashley was all smiles with cameras, while leading journalists and investors on a rare tour of the warehouse floor, pointing out the changes he’s making after a series of scandals surrounding paying conditions.

“But when you ask me my sorry, so I said ‘yes, I’m sorry’, I mean I’m sorry.”

But the company’s investors want changes at the very top of the management, 53% voting for the chairman Keith Hellawell to go. His position is only safe because Mike Ashley, the majority shareholder wants him to stay.

“Keith knows my strengths, he knows my weaknesses, and we are beginning to get, to learn some of the company’s weaknesses together. So we are gonna fix it. Please give us 12 months to fix it. What difference is 12 months? We’ve done some good work in 90 days. So let’s do some fantastic work in the next 12 months. And if we failed,  I’ll be stood here, he won't be stood here in a year’s time, facing your TV cameras, saying: ‘I’m sorry. I got it wrong again’. When is this ever gonna win.“

Despite the overwhelming opposition from shareholders, Mr. Hellawell says he’ll only quit this time next year if investors are still unhappy.

“You represent investors at Sports Direct. We suppose yesterday you were planning to vote against the chairman Keith Hellawell. How did you vote and how did you feel with the result?”

“We believe it’s time for Keith Hellawell to step down.”

“And what if it doesn’t happen?”

“If it doesn’t happen, you know, we only have so much power, and what we can do is to use the power as much as we can and seek to influence the board.”

For the most part of the day, Mike Ashley was engaging and apologetic, trying to show how much he cares. There’s still one big issue that needs to be addressed. And that’s the 4,000 agency staff that work inside this Sport Direct Warehouse who are not benefiting from some of the measures to improve working conditions.

“They are still employed all more effectively zero-hour contract, so that’s not unacceptable. And the proposal to transfer them to direct employment like ten a month means in 2o our years we'll still be transfering people.”

Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley is still under pressure to make real change, but he says he’s confident he can turn it around. All he needs is a year.

Charlotte Lomas, Sky News, Shirebrook in Derbyshire.
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