Mike Ashley and Sports Direct have been condemned fur using ‘disgraceful’ and ‘unlawful’ employment practices.
The case in question is the long running dispute involving workers from Ashley’s USC clothing chain (part of the Sports Direct group), who were given 15 minutes notice before they then lost their jobs.
The workers, who were employed by his ailing clothing chain USC, have all secured a protected redundancy payout after the firm, which is now in control of administrators Duff and Phelps, gave them just 15 minutes’ notice before they lost their jobs.
The people in question worked at the company’s warehouse in Dundonald, Ayrshire, and the way they were treated, led to Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley being asked to appear before a parliamentary committee, which then led to further friction when he said he was too busy to appear in front of MPs.
Rory McPherson, who is the partner in charge of Thompsons employment law department which represented the workers, said:
“This judgement from the tribunal is very good news for the former employees at Dundonald who brought the case.
“They showed courage in standing up to and beating a rich and powerful employer like Mike Ashley who used disgraceful and unlawful employment practices.
“I’m very glad that this law firm was able to help the workers involved and call on politicians in both Holyrood and Westminster to do all they can to stop employers like Mr Ashley thinking they can ride roughshod over workers’ rights.”
A written judgment on the case (which was not defended by USC (part of the Sports Direct group)) states:
“A staff meeting was called for 14 January. At that meeting a letter was given to all employees regarding the situation.
“After approximately 15 minutes given to employees to digest the contents of that letter a second pre-prepared letter was issued to employees.
“That letter referred to there having been consultation and it intimated redundancies. The employees were dismissed in terms of that letter.
“There had in fact been no discussion or consultation regarding alternatives of information as to redundancies.”
The employment judge Robert Gall said that the workers (approximately 50 of them) should each receive 90 days’ redundancy, something which Mike Ashley and his company had attempted to avoid paying.
Representatives from the Scottish Government attempted to contact the company bosses at the time and offer support to employees but were unsuccessful.
Officials from PACE, which is the Scottish Government initiative that offers advice to redundant workers, went to the USC warehouse at Dundonald following unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with company bosses, but were denied access to the site for several days.