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MP urges Sports Direct to ditch employment agency

By Ravender Sembhy

Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley has been urged by MP Iain Wright to ditch controversial employment agency Transline Group, which supplies thousands of workers to the retailer's troubled Shirebrook warehouse.

The chair of the Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Committee said that Transline has "not been candid or credible" in its explanation of working practices at the warehouse, which has been likened to a "Victorian workhouse".

Sports Direct will soon have nine stores in Northern Ireland.

Mr Wright said: "Mike Ashley says he is committed to making conditions better for staff at Shirebrook.

"If he means what he says, he could start by cutting his ties with Transline Group who have not been candid or credible in their evidence to the Business Committee and, as we heard in our evidence sessions, have deducted money from low-paid workers without proper explanation and justification."

Transline bosses were grilled by MPs in June as part of an inquiry into working practices at Shirebrook, and were accused of misleading the committee.

At the time they denied the allegations, saying they "wholly misrepresent" conditions, and that they did not give misleading evidence deliberately.

Mr Ashley admitted in the same month that staff were not paid during security searches at the end of their shift, meaning they took home less than the minimum amount required by law.

Last week Sports Direct moved to make amends, saying it will offer casual retail staff guaranteed hours instead of zero-hours contracts and ensure all warehouse staff are paid above National Minimum Wage following an internal review into working practices by law firm RPC.

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