Head Of Training, The Healthy Work Company

August 16, 2016

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£1m back-pay for short-changed Sports Direct workers

Thousands of workers at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire are set to receive back-pay totalling an estimated £1 million for non-payment of the minimum wage, Unite the union announced yesterday (Monday 15 August).

The back-pay follows an admission by Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley of non-payment of the minimum wage at a hearing of the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills (BiS) select committee, following a recently published report into the company’s workings.

A Parliament summary of the report said: “A spotlight has been shone on the working practices and business model of Sports Direct. What the spotlight revealed was extremely disturbing. Workers at Sports Direct were not being paid the national minimum wage, and were being penalised for matters such as taking a short break to drink water and for taking time off work when ill. Some say they were promised permanent contracts in exchange for sexual favours. Serious health and safety breaches also seem to have occurred. For this to occur in the UK in 2016 is a serious indictment of the management at Sports Direct.”

Workers directly employed by Sports Direct and the Best Connection agency are expected to start receiving back-pay in full towards the end of August, Unite officials said.

The union said about 1,700 Transline agency workers at the Derbyshire site may only initially receive half the back-pay they are owed because of the firm’s refusal to honour its commitments from when it took over from Blue Arrow in 2014.

A Transline spokesman said: “We are making all payments required in full compliance with HMRC [HM Revenue and Customs].”

Commenting Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner said: “This is a significant victory in Unite’s ongoing campaign to secure justice and dignity at work for workers at Sports Direct and demonstrates the importance of modern trade unions in Britain today.

“But investors and customers alike should not be fooled into thinking that everything is now rosy at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse. Transline, one of the employment agencies involved, is disgracefully still trying to short-change workers by seeking to duck its responsibilities.

“Deep seated problems still remain regarding the use of agency workers with the behaviour of both Transline and The Best Connection further jeopardising Sports Direct’s battered reputation.

“Sports Direct needs to make Transline face up to its responsibilities and seriously confront endemic abuses within its employment agencies.”

SHP has contacted Sports Direct and are waiting for a comment.

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