Union protests against Sports Direct emoji survey for workers

Sports Direct at Shirebrook
Sports Direct at Shirebrook

Sports Direct has been condemned by a trade union for using emojis to guage worker satisfaction.

The use of touchpads with happy and sad faces to gauge worker satisfaction at Sport Direct’s warehouse in Shirebrook was branded an ‘emoji con’ by Britain’s largest union, Unite.

According to Unite finger recognition technology is being used, with workers asked to touch a happy or sad emoji as they clock in to indicate whether they feel they are treated with respect.

Workers selecting the sad face are asked if they are sure. If they are, pressing the sad emoji again results in the worker being called in by management to discuss why they pressed it.

The union says the system lacks anonymity and workers will be afraid of being labelled troublemakers.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “There are still approximately 3,500 agency workers at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse, the vast majority on contracts that guarantee no more than 336 hours a year.

“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?

“It’s nothing short of an emoji con and a bogus exercise to gloss over past failures and some of the problems which still persist in the warehouse.”

“With reports from agency workers of crowded aisles, defective warehouse equipment and products staked dangerously high, we know that health and safety is still a major cause for concern.

A Sports Direct spokesperson said: “We believe these comments by Unite do not accurately reflect the position at Sports Direct.”

The firm said it has “a range of different measures in place to protect staff” including extensive feedback plus a workers’ representative who attends meetings of the board.

It also has a staff listening group, a staff health and safety committee and a staff wellbeing service.

The firm added: “Whilst we are disappointed with Unite’s stance we will continue to engage with the union, and we recently contacted Unite on this basis.”