Sports Direct workers still waiting for minimum wage back-pay

'Thousands' are still waiting for 'hundreds and hundreds of pounds', Unite union tells MPs

Sports Direct 220213

"Thousands" of Sports Direct workers have still not received back-pay relating to a two-year period during which they were paid less than the legal minimum wage, Unite union says.

Speaking to the parliamentary business committee, which is investigating the UK's changing labour market, Unite criticised Transline, one of the two agencies that supplies staff for Sports Direct's Shirebrook warehouse.

It was part of a £1m agreement last year to pay back the amount by which workers had been short-changed. Sports Direct has done so in full for its directly employed staff at the warehouse, as has the other agency, Best Connection.

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However, says The Guardian, while Transline has made good payments dating back to when it took over contracts from rival agency Blue Arrow in 2014, it has not done so for the two years before.

Steve Turner, assistant general secretary of Unite, told MPs this effectively breaches "transfer of undertakings regulations", commonly referred to as "Tupe", which compel the agency to pick up the tab for issues relating to the contract that it agreed to take on.

He added: "This is a huge issue. This is hundreds and hundreds of pounds for thousands of workers, where Best Connection, the other agency, has honoured the agreement and paid in full. Sports Direct has paid in full.

"But one agency, Transline, has decided it's not going to do that."

A spokesperson for Transline said: "All back payments have been made to Transline employees over the period in question [2014-2016].

"For those employees that worked for Blue Arrow and then transferred to Transline, we have been working with HM Revenue & Customs and are awaiting their guidance on how Tupe applies to the period that those employees worked for Blue Arrow.

"We will act according to their feedback as soon as this is received."

Working conditions at Shirebrook were labelled a "Victorian workhouse" by MPs last year, in particular following revelations of Transline's controversial "six -strike" disciplinary policy, which could see workers sacked for accumulating minor infringements such as "spending too long on the toilet", says the Guardian.

Sports Direct was also forced to admit that workers were paid less than the minimum wage from May 2012 until 2016, mostly because of extensive searches that were carried out after working hours.

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