Iain Wright MP has called the practices of the company Sports Direct “closer to those of a Victorian workhouse”. I looked into what defined a Victorian workhouse and found this helpful home work guide:
Before 1834, poor people were looked after by buying food and clothing from money collected from land owners and other wealthy people.The Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834, ensured that no able-bodied person could get poor relief unless they went to live in special workhouses. The idea was that the poor were helped to support themselves. They had to work for their food and accommodation.Workhouses were where poor people who had no job or home lived. They earned their keep by doing jobs in the workhouse.
In Helen Cahill’s headline report in City A.M., she summarizes the key messages from the MPs, and I was rather disappointed to read that. The picture on the front page attempts to show Mike Ashley’s face as a devil with smart use of shadow on his face on a black background but you can’t help looking at his somewhat sweet expression…
– Workers being paid below national minimum wage – this is unfortunately a legal issue due to the existence of a national minimum wage…but maybe this the time to really think about if a national minimum wage is sustainable is this competitive global marketplace. The minimum wage is thought to exclude vulnerable people from work.
– The fact that they are not directly employed by Sports Direct
– Why is that such a problem. It’s Sports Direct decision to outsource this function to a specialist company.
– That Sports Direct pays $50m to the agencies involved – Again, this is between Sports Direct and the agencies. This is what Sports Direct values the work of its agencies at . If this is an incorrect judgement, then surely it’s for Sports Direct, its agencies and its employees to address.
– And finally, Sports Direct charging £10 for a pre-paid debit card issues by one of the agencies to pay the workers who did not have a bank account. – I think that this is a good deal for not having a bank account. At HSBC, it is mandatory for all employees have to open a HSBC bank account to get paid. Given the administration associated with opening the account, maintaining it and then closing it when I left…I do not think what Sports Direct are doing is unreasonable. At least the workers have a choice.
Honestly, this does not sound to me like a Victorian workhouse. Someone has not done their homework!