SPORTS Direct has been forced to pay out £1 million after admitting it was not paying its workers the minimum wage, it was announced yesterday.
The deal was struck between Sports Direct, HMRC and the Unite Union, and will grant workers pay dating back to May 2012. Sports Direct were caught red handed subjecting workers to daily searches at their Shirebrook Wharehouse in Derbyshire.
Workers were not paid during the lengthy daily searches, meaning that effectively they were being paid under the minimum wage. Billionaire boss of Sports Direct Mike Ashley, while being grilled by the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills (BiS) select committee, admitted that he was indeed paying under the minimum wage.
96 per cent of Unite members directly employed by Sports Direct at Shirebrook backed the deal secured by Unite. The payments are back-dated to May 2012 for direct employees and agency workers, and cover the unpaid searches at the end of shifts.
They will be worth up to £1,000 for some workers, the union estimates. 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.’
On the use of employment agencies Turner went on to warn: ‘Mike Ashley and the Sports Direct board should be under no illusions. The charge of “Victorian” work practices will continue to weigh heavily on Sports Direct until it moves long standing agency workers onto direct, permanent contracts and weans itself off its reliance upon zero hours contracts.’
Meanwhile takeaway delivery firm Deliveroo has been forced to retreat on its new pay scheme in which it does not pay its workers the National Living Wage, even though it is legally obliged to do so. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) has said workers must be paid the ‘national living wage’ of £7.20 an hour, unless HMRC or a court ruled they were self-employed.
After the DBEIS statement, Deliveroo backed down and announced that workers can now opt out of the firm’s pilot scheme to pay £3.75 per delivery, instead of the present rates of £7 an hour plus £1 a delivery. Last week Deliveroo drivers protested outside the company’s headquarters in central London about the new pay rates.
It prompted the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (DBEIS) to state: ‘The government is determined to build an economy that works for all, that includes ensuring everyone gets a decent wage. An individual’s employment status is determined by the reality of the working relationship and not the type of contract they have signed. Individuals cannot opt out of the rights they are owed, nor can an employer decide not to afford individuals those rights.’
Deliveroo provides a delivery service to thousands of restaurants that do not have their own drivers, using riders on bicycles or mopeds. Customers are charged a £2.50 delivery fee.