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Sports Direct

Sports Direct billionaire tycoon Mike Ashley appeared before a House of Commons committee to answer questions on a wide range of issues pertaining to the company and its staff. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36472464 http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/business-innovation-and-skills/news-parliament-2015/sports-direct-working-practices-mike-ashley-no-show-16-17/

There were a number of revelations that came out during the questioning including:

  • Mr Ashley admitted that the company effectively paid less than the minimum wage to its employees and advised that “as far as he was aware” the practice of docking employees 15 minutes’ wages for being 1 minute late had been stopped.
  • When asked about using employment agencies for huge swathes of his workforce Mr Ashley said “we can’t possibly do this in-house ourselves.”
  • When asked about the excessive number of ambulances dispatched to the Shirebrook premises he said “I am told that they were over-quick to pick up the phone and call the ambulance service.”
  • When he was asked about bringing an end to sexual harassment in the workplace his response was “Simple as that, fellas. Not just fellas, girls. Sorry.”
  • The issue of trade unions was covered and it was put to Mr Ashley that there was a “culture of fear” at Sports Direct. Mr Ashely was asked whether he had spoken to the union, Unite. Mr Ashley confirmed that he had been involved in one discussion with Unite at last year’s AGM. This was before the allegations against the company were published. He was then asked if he had any plans to speak to them again and he said that he was planning to speak to them at this year’s AGM.       Not before and not after. He also stated “I can do a better job for the people at Sports Direct than Unite” and added that the union would “showboat” and turn it into “some sort of media circus.”
  • When asked about his form he replied “I have not always been on my game, but if you judge that then you throw out the other 30 years when I was on my game.”
  • He repeatedly stated that he couldn’t be held responsible for everything that happened across the business and added “I am not Father Christmas. I am not saying I will make the world wonderful.”       However it was pointed out to him that the company was built in his image and he has certainly profited handsomely from it.
  • Mr Ashley did however accept that mistakes had been made and he stated that he had “unpleasantly” surprised by some of the stories about workplace practices at Sports Direct.
  • During the meeting he admitted that Sport Direct had outgrown him, stating that it had gone from a dinghy to an oil tanker overnight and had probably expanded beyond his ability to manage it.

Whether you are:

  • an employer having to deal with employee issues which could be any one of many from organising a recruitment process to redundancy procedures; from drafting contracts of employment to dealing with disciplinary matters;
  • or indeed, if you are an employee in a workplace and are having to deal with any employment issue from entitlement to pay to pension rights; from discrimination/harassment of any kind to rights under grievance procedures, we at MTB have the expertise to assist you to ensure that you are fully protected and that the best outcome for you is achieved.
  • We have acted for unions, individual employees and employers in many high profile cases and so no matter what type of craft you are in, MTB will give you a service comparable with the MS Allure of the Seas cruise ship.