Gig economy baron Mike Ashley has been told by Unite to stop gambling with workers’ livelihoods after he attempted to pin blame on landlords for any future job losses at House of Fraser stores.
Sports Direct, which is owned by Ashley, purchased the troubled department store chain for £90m this month but has yet to say how many of its 59 premises will close.
Negotiations with landlords have resulted in seven House of Fraser stores being saved, however Ashley has warned that ‘time is running out’ for the rest.
A House of Fraser spokesman said, “Some landlords are being very collaborative in order to give us a chance at turning the business around, giving House of Fraser a lifeline and saving hundreds of jobs.
“However, some greedy landlords would rather see the stores close than help save the jobs of hundreds of people.
“We will continue to try and convince these landlords, but ultimately time is running out. Some closures will be announced.”
Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said Ashley, who has tabled proposals for House of Fraser landlords to provide properties rent free and is infamous for relying on insecure employment practices, is playing games with the people’s livelihoods.
“Thousands of workers’ jobs are hanging by a thread while Mike Ashley plays poker with House of Fraser landlords and suppliers struggle to meet mounting debts for orders delivered but not paid for,” Turner said.
“Workers and their families are, of course, concerned that even if they keep their job, it will be their pay, terms and conditions that Mike Ashley will come for next in a transfer of Sports Direct practices to the retail giant.”
Turner called on Ashley to “immediately commit to maintaining the existing pay, conditions and pensions of House of Fraser workers, pay suppliers what’s owed to them, protect workers in warehousing and transport, while fulfilling his broken promises to ban zero-hour contracts in-store for his Sports Direct staff, demonstrating that a leopard can indeed change his spots.”