Sports Direct forced to pay £1million to workers after Unite campaign

Cash dates back to 2012 in minimum wage dodge


Sports Direct has agreed to give £1million of back-pay to workers after talks with Unite the Union on the retail giant’s failure to pay the minimum wage.

Thousands of workers at the company’s warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, were paid less than the legal requirement, with under-payments dating back to May 2012.

But this money will now be refunded after talks by Unite and HMRC with Sports Direct, handing some workers as much as £1,000.

‘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,’ said Steve Turner, Unite assistant general secretary.

The victory comes after a list of 200 companies dodging the minimum wage was released by the government in its biggest ever ‘name and shame’ over wages.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady has called for the worst offenders to be prosecuted.

Sports Direct has been criticised by a government inquiry over ‘appalling’ conditions in its warehouses – including the one in Shirebrook – with MPs saying Mike Ashley, the company’s Deputy Executive Chairman, and majority shareholders ‘must be held accountable’.

It was in front of the inquiry that Ashley admitted his company’s failure to pay minimum wage to thousands of workers.

However, Unite’s Steve Turner warned that Translane, one of two staffing agencies working with Sports Direct, is trying to avoid refunding wages for up to 1,700 workers – those whose contracts were originally with a different agency. He said:

‘Transline, one of the employment agencies involved, is disgracefully still trying to short-change workers by seeking to duck its responsibilities.

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

HMRC told the Guardian:

‘While we don’t discuss individual cases we won’t accept anything less than what’s owed.

Our role is to investigate all cases where we believe an employer is not paying its workers the national minimum wage to ensure those workers receive what they are owed under the law.’

See: Bosses ducking minimum wage should face justice, says TUC

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