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Zero-hours profiteer among top 5 richest

Sports Direct boss among elite few worth more than the poorest 20% put together

A sportswear baron who employs most workers on zero-hours contracts is one of five Britons worth more combined than the poorest 20 per cent, Oxfam revealed yesterday.

Sports Direct boss and Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley ranks fifth in Britain's rich list with a reported wealth of £3.3 billion.

He was named by Oxfam as one of the elite raking in £28bn a year - a sum which the poorest 12.6 million people would have to club together their poverty pay and benefits to match.

Oxfam campaigns and policy director Ben Phillips said: "Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, whilst millions of families are struggling to make ends meet.

"It's deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive."

Mr Ashley's Sports Direct registered profits of more than £152m in 2013 alone.

He has amassed his fortune by banning unions and putting 90 per cent of workers on zero-hours contracts.

Staff have revealed that bosses discriminate against staff who offer to work fewer hours and a Polish worker was arrested in January for giving birth in the toilet of the store's Derbyshire warehouse.

It was reported that the woman was terrified of announcing her pregnancy to bosses and losing her job.

Unite assistant general secretary Steve Turner told the Star the wealth gap between Mr Ashley and his pals and working people is "sickening."

He said it "fuels the argument that there needs to a radical redistribution of wealth" and urged George Osborne to make a start in tomorrow's Budget.

But he added: "I think there is more chance of pigs flying than the Chancellor tackling the rich and powerful."

The Duke of Westminster, property tycoons David and Simon Reuben, Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja and the former Chelsea FC chairman Charles Cadogan were calculated to be the owners of Britain's largest fortunes.


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