Yahoo:The 20,000 part-time workers at Sports Direct, the retailer controlled by Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley, are employed on zero-hours contracts.
Zero-hours contracts mean that part-time staff at Sports Direct have no holiday or sick pay, and cannot be sure of how many hours they will work each week.
The part-time workforce at Sports Direct accounts for 90pc of its 23,000 employees.
The zero-hours contracts are in use despite the fact the company posted pre-tax profits of more than £200m in the last year and has introduced a generous bonus scheme for full-time staff.
Full-time workers at Sports Direct are set to collect a bonus worth more than £70,000 in company shares next month after the retailer hit profit targets.
The company has credited this bonus scheme, introduced in 2009, with revitalising the business and improving staff retention rates in the business.
However, most of Britain's other major retailers - including Tesco (Other OTC: TSCDF - news) , Asda, Sainsbury (LSE: SBRY.L - news) 's, Morrisons, and Marks & Spencer (Other OTC: MAKSF - news) - do not use zero-hours contracts.
According to data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of workers in jobs without any guarantee of regular hours or pay nearly doubled during last year to reach 200,000.
The contracts now used by almost a quarter of Britain's major employers - legally allow firms to employ staff, often in low paid jobs, without any guarantee of actual work, or income.
Andy Sawford, the Labour MP for Corby, who is trying to ban the use of zero-hour contracts, told The Guardian : "It would be much better for Sports Direct to instead of offering bonus gimmicks, they should offer their staff the security of proper contracts.
"The zero-hours contracts are highly exploitative and suit the company because it keeps people in a fragile state where they are at the beck and call of their employers."
From WSJ via Yahoo: Dr. Roger Herrin, a retired surgeon from Illinois who lost his son in a car accident, smoldered with rage. An appellate court had ruled that his family had over-collected insurance benefits. He was left with no choice but to pay back $500,000 to other passengers who survived the accident.
So the doctor exacted his revenge — in quarters.
On Wednesday, he delivered the money to the other parties, complying with a court-ordered settlement. But to their astonishment, he paid $150,000 of it in quarters.
An armored Brink’s truck drove 150 bags of loose quarters from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to a Marion, Ill., bank. The bags were then piled on flatbed trucks that the doctor had borrowed from a friend.
The trucks then rumbled through a busy downtown square, parked outside of two law firms, where the bags were dumped in the lobbies.
The 76-year-old doctor told Law Blog that his coin trick — reported by the Southern Illinoisan newspaper — was a “protest against the ruling.”
The coins weighed close to four tons or about as much as 70 regular-sized couches. If you lined up the quarters, they’d stretch across more than 11 football fields, or more than a kilometer.
“They were not happy. They didn’t know what they were going to do with it. And I wasn’t real congenial,” Dr. Herrin told Law Blog. “We have cash and checks. Which part don’t you want?” his attorney told the nonplussed lawyers and receptionists who gathered around the bags, according to Dr. Herrin.
“They decided they wanted it all,” said the doctor.
“If he wants to pay in quarters, that’s his business,” said Mark Prince, a lawyer representing two of the other passengers.
In 2001, Dr. Herrin’s son, Michael, and two teenage friends were riding in a Jeep Cherokee driven by one of the boys’ mothers when a farm truck failed to stop at an intersection and rammed the vehicle. Michael was killed and the other passengers suffered injuries. One of the kids, the worst of the injured, had to undergo several knee surgeries.
Dr. Herrin, who had purchased his own family insurance policies through nursing homes he owns, settled a wrongful-death claim with two insurance companies, which paid his family $1.65 million, according to court documents. The other passengers had no claim on that money.
There was also a pool of $800,000 in aggregated under-insured-motorist coverage from the crash vehicle for claims by all the passengers, but a trial court came up with a formula that gave the son’s estate most of that money.
Many years and lawsuits later, an appellate court ruled that the lion’s share of the common pool should go to the other passengers. “Frankly, I don’t need the money,” said the doctor. Most of it, he said, had gone to his ex-wife. He said he just didn’t think it was fair to have to return the cash when the only life lost was that of his son.
The doctor, who lives on a 20-acre estate in Harrisburg, had one of his grounds workers help with the hauling Wednesday. “He said he’s very sore from lifting the bags,” said the doctor.
Will virtual stores take off in the US?
From Tech&Facts: A major South Korean retailer owned by British giant Tesco has opened a virtual store in a busy Seoul subway station, for increasingly sophisticated smartphone users to order groceries and more.
Homeplus, which bills the shopping experiment as a world first, offers 500 items including food, electronics, office supplies and toiletries at its “store” at Seolleung station in the south of the city of 10 million.
Seven pillars and six platform screen doors have been plastered with images of life-size store shelves filled with goods — such as milk, apples, a bag of rice or school backpacks — which each carry a small barcode.
Shoppers download a related application on their smartphone and make purchases by taking photos of the barcodes.
“You place an order when you go to work in the morning and can see the items delivered at home when you come home at night,” said a spokeswoman for Homeplus, the country’s second-largest discount chain.
Homeplus was established in 1999 in a joint venture between British-based giant Tesco and South Korea’s Samsung but is now 100 percent owned by Tesco.
“This will help increase our sales via smartphones, which will be the next big sales generator,” the spokeswoman told AFP.
Homeplus already operates an online store for smartphone users which garners modest sales of 30 million won ($28,000) a week, but hopes it can get a big boost from some 200,000 people who pass through the station daily.
The company says sales at Seolleung, which opened on August 25, are small at present — declining to reveal the actual figure — but that the experiment is part of a long-term investment in a sector that will only keep growing.
Online sales of all types last year were worth 160 billion won out of Homeplus’s total revenue of 11 trillion won.
South Korea has 15.4 million smartphone users, more than 30 percent of the population. A state telecommunication official has estimated this will rise to 70 to 80 percent within three to four years.
Orders placed by smartphone at Seolleung are sent to the Homeplus store neares to the delivery address and anything ordered before 1pm will be delivered the same day, retailer says.
“This new store, which integrates current online and offline shopping space, has vast potential,” said the spokeswoman.
The virtual store lured few shoppers during a visit this week, with a handful of young people taking photos of the unusual display but not making any purchases.
Hwang Won-Il, a 40-year-old manager at a mobile payment sustem developer, said he had his doubts about the new retail experience.
People may have to spend “a good five to 10 minutes just to complete an order to buy five items”, he told AFP.
“This is a novel experiment… but I wonder if people are willing to spend that much time in the middle of a busy subway station,” he said while trying out a purchase.
Hwang, a regular Homeplus customer, was out of luck when he attempted to use his iPhone. The app won’t be available on Apple’s store until mid-September although other smartphone operators already offer it.
ABC News: A Fort Worth, Texas, man went home to find an empty lot where his family's house of decades had stood. Local officials still don't know how it came to be mistakenly demolished by a crew last weekend.
David Underwood and his wife returned from out of town on Saturday and decided to stop by their house, which had belonged to his late grandmother and where they had planned to move eventually.
"We rounded the corner and my wife, Valerie says, 'The house is gone David,'" he told the Dallas Observer blog Unfair Park. "I'm looking at the yard, so I looked and I'm like, 'Wow, OK.'"
All that was left of their three-bedroom, one-bathroom ranch-style home was its foundation slab.
A passing city marshal informed them that the home was demolished, the Dallas Observer reported. The Underwoods eventually learned that the demolition crew contracted by the city had mistakenly cleared their home instead of a nearby one that was condemned months ago.
The Underwoods' home is on 9716 Watercress Drive while the condemned home, which is still standing, is on 9708 Watercress Drive.
Bill Begley, a spokesman for the City of Fort Worth provided a statement to ABC News.
"On July 12, 2013, contractors demolished the wrong property on Watercress Drive," the city's statement read. "The property to be demolished should have been 9708 Watercress Dr. The property that was demolished was a vacant structure located at 9716 Watercress Dr. City staff currently is investigating to determine what happened."
"A mistake was made," Fort Worth's code compliance director, Brandon Bennett, told The Dallas Morning News. "We have to identify where the weak link was and fix that so it doesn't happen again. We need to look at all of our upcoming demolitions, and double- and triple-check these things to make sure everybody has dotted the I's and crossed the T's."
It wasn't clear who whether the city or the demolition contractor would compensate the owners for the house. A call to the Underwoods wasn't immediately returned.
A SON who mysteriously disappeared on holiday has been reunited with his shattered family after 13 years as a SLAVE — in Wales.
Terrified Darrell Simester was rescued by his parents from hellish squalor after a tip-off from a woman who spotted him on a remote farm.
Anguished mum Jean and dad Tony had spent more than a decade appealing for information about their missing son — unaware he was being forced to toil from dawn till dusk for no pay.
Last seen aged 30 ... 'slave' Darrell Simester
Last night Darrell — who was last seen by his parents when he was 30 — told how for most of the time he had to share a shed with rats.
Now 43 — and with a deformed spine as a result of his nightmare — he said: “I felt forgotten, cut off from the world, a prisoner.”
His masters on the horse farm in Peterstone, South Wales — Irish travellers who at first promised him a proper job — never gave him a single day off.
Furious dad Tony, 66 — who described his son as “timid and vulnerable” — said in Kidderminster, Worcs: “What happened to him is horrendous, inhuman.
“These type of people roam the streets picking up the vulnerable and offering them a new life. Then they are treated like dogs.”
His son had not been allowed to see a doctor in 13 years and was found suffering from a hernia the “size of a football”.
He had infected feet, missing teeth and was starving.
Darrell, who faces intensive counselling to get over his ordeal, said: “I never had one day off in 13 years. I was scared what they’d do to me if I didn’t stay there.”Hell ... 'slave' caravan
He was never locked in but his terror prevented him fleeing.
He saw other “slaves” come and go — often homeless people from nearby towns or Polish and Russian immigrants.
Darrell said: “I was never allowed in the house. They put me in a shed with rats.”
Two years ago he was given a tiny caravan. But he still had to wash his clothes in a horse trough.
His family had contacted police more than 50 times.
Yesterday there was no sign of the owners.
Gwent police said: “We are investigating the conditions in which Mr Simester was living.”