Sports Direct worker ‘too scared to call in sick’ is left paralysed by blood clot

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A Sports Direct warehouse worker who feared he could lose his job by ringing in sick, later collapsed at work with a blood clot on his brain.

Guntars Zarins (52) did not want to take time off in case he received a ‘strike’ against his name, according to his daughter, Liga.

NDET 03-10-12 MC 6'Sports Direct Shirebrook

NDET 03-10-12 MC 6'Sports Direct Shirebrook

He is now in Queen’s Medical Centre recovering from a live-saving operation to drain the blood from his brain.

He has been brought out of a coma, but is paralysed. His family face an agonising wait to see if he will improve.

Guntars, who works on a zero-hour contract, came to Mansfield from Latvia four years ago and works six days a week at the main Shirebrook depot. In the days leading up to his collapse, he suffered flu-like symptoms.

But while his health is a priority, his family remain concerned about working conditions for many of the estimated 5,000 people who work there, most of which are understood to be on either casual or zero-hour contracts.

Having worked there herself, his daughter Liga said the ‘strike’ system is in place to keep workers in check.

She says so-called misdemeanours - including taking a day off ill - can result in a strike against a worker’s name.

After three or four strikes, it is thought workers can be fired.

Liga and her partner, Kris Shaw, who live in Kirkby, said: “It’s how they treat people, they mostly employ foreign people because they can treat them as they like and because they don’t fully understand, they can be exploited.

“They are too scared to speak out in case they get the sack. It’s about time someone took a stand, they’re being treated like dogs. People are too scared to step forward to say anything.”

Despite attempts to contact Sports Direct, nobody was available for comment.