MPs tear Sports Direct boss to pieces over company’s working conditions
SPORTS Direct founder Mike Ashley is “accountable” for “appalling” working conditions at the retail giant, MPs have found.
The business committee report published today said it had been presented with a “disturbing picture” of work practices during its inquiry into the company.
MPs accused Mr Ashley of being responsible for the dire working conditions at the firm’s stores and its warehouse in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, where workers are treated as “commodities” rather than human beings.
They also warn that Mr Ashley has set a standard that could become the norm across British workplaces.
The committee said it was “disgusted” at evidence presented by employment agencies The Best Connection and Transline, which employ staff for Sports Direct, describing it as “woefully poor” and in some cases incorrect.
MPs say they were “deliberately misled” by Transline and urged the company to clarify some of its evidence.
Their hard-hitting report described Sports Direct’s working practices are “extremely disturbing.”
It stated: “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.”
Committee chairman and Labour MP Iain Wright called its working practices closer to that of a Victorian workhouse than that of a modern, reputable high street retailer.
“For this to occur in the UK in 2016 is a serious indictment of the management at Sports Direct and Mike Ashley, as the face of Sports Direct, must be held accountable for these failings,” he said.
“It seems incredible that Mike Ashley, who visits the Shirebrook warehouse at least once a week, was unaware of these appalling practices.
“This suggests Mr Ashley was turning a blind eye to conditions at Sports Direct in the interests of maximising profits or that there are serious corporate governance failings which left him out of the loop in spite of all the evidence.
“This model has proved successful for Mr Ashley and there is a risk this will become much more the norm in Britain.”
A government spokesman said the report’s findings were “extremely concerning.”