Sports Direct today blamed the Government for forcing it to pay “unreasonably legal wages” to its employees, which has resulted in a 25% fall in pre-tax profits.
The company’s chairman, Keith Hellawell, was left furious, saying that he was forced to pay their ‘even the bloody stock technician apprentices’ £3.40 per hour in accordance with the Government’s national minimum wage.
Mr Hellawell said, “If it weren’t for our policy of fining tardy staff their entire shift’s pay then our pre-tax profits would have fallen by as much as 30%.”
Earlier this year, Sports Direct’s warehouses were likened to “gulags” and “labour camps” by its own workers, after owner Mike Ashley was forced to face MPs about the company’s ‘unique working environments’.
It is thought that up to 95% of Sports Direct staff are labelled as “stock technician apprentices” on its HMRC documentation.
One such apprentice, Ashley Howe, 39, of Derby Road, Wigan said, “It’s nice to finally earn more than three quid an hour after working for this company for more than five years.”
However, Mr Howe did go on to say “I might not be here much longer, I spent too long in the bathroom yesterday, and now I’m facing a disciplinary in front of the board of directors.”
Mr Hellawell has refuted Mr Howe’s claims that he has worked for the company longer than a year, insisting that “If that were true, he would be entitled to £7.20 per hour rather than the £3.40 that he receives as an apprentice while he learns the trade.”NT