Sports Direct Workers To Get Back Pay Unpaid Wages

15 August 2016, 15:15 | Updated: 15 August 2016, 15:18

Sports Direct HQ Derbyshire

More than #1 million in back pay is to be handed to thousands of Sports Direct workers after the retailer admitted to not paying the minimum wage.

The move will see some workers at Sports Direct Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire receive as much as £1,000 in payments back-dated to May 2012.

The payments will be made to both agency workers and staff directly employed by Sports Direct, Unite the union said.

The trade union said 96% of its members directly employed by Sports Direct had backed the pay deal, which covers unpaid searches at the end of shifts.

Workers employed by Sports Direct and employment agency The Best Connection will start receiving back pay in full near the end of August, Unite said.

But it added that up to 1,700 Transline agency workers may only initially be handed half the back pay they are owed.

The union said Transline is refusing to honour its commitments from when it took over at Shirebrook from recruitment firm Blue Arrow two years ago.

Steve Turner, Unite's assistant general security, said it was a ``significant victory'' in the union's campaign to secure dignity at work for the staff at Sports Direct.

He added: ``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.''

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley admitted to MPs in June that he paid workers below the minimum wage after discovering ''issues'' with working practices at the retailer as part of an internal review.

Mr Ashley told MPs from the Business Select Committee that security guards at the company's Shirebrook warehouse held up staff from leaving, meaning they were effectively paid less than the amount required by law.

Unite said ``the charge of 'Victorian' work practices will continue to weigh heavily'' on Sports Direct until it ditches zero-hours contracts and moves long-standing agency workers on to direct permanent contracts.

Mr Turner added: ``Unite will seek to engage constructively with Sports Direct where possible and urges the retailer to continue dialogue with us so that we can assist it in meeting Mike Ashley's ambition of being an exemplar employer.''

The union is also calling on shareholders to back a resolution at Sports Direct's annual general meeting on September 7 for an independent review into working practices at the firm.

Agencies Transline and The Best Connection provide more than 3,000 agency workers to Sports Direct's Shirebrook warehouse.

Labour's Jonathan Reynolds, a member of the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee, said he was ``absolutely delighted'' by the back pay deal secured following Mr Ashley's appearance before MPs.

The MP for Stalybridge and Hyde told the Press Association: ``The whole episode caused serious damage to the company's reputation.

``I'm pleased they are trying to put this part right but there's still a lot more to do.

``Things that came out of the evidence to the select committee, and especially testimony from people who worked there, were very, very serious - people thought that kind of situation in the workplace was not a feature of modern Britain.

``I think people were shocked to see how workers were treated but it's in the company's interests to put that right.

``It's great this part has been corrected and let's hope it's the start of the improvements.''