Wigan workers 'short-changed' over redundancy pay-outs from Sports Direct

The now empty Sports Direct depot
The now empty Sports Direct depot

Ex-workers from a now defunct Wigan warehouse say they were short-changed over redundancy pay-outs.

More than 200 people lost their jobs when tycoon Mike Ashley announced he was shutting down his Sports Direct depot at Martland Park earlier this summer.

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Many of those people had previously worked there when it was JJB Sports’ headquarters and distribution centre before it went into administration several years ago.

And a union boss said confusion over the subsequent hand-over appears to be the source of discrepancies between what the company paid out and what some ex-staff felt was the amount to which they were entitled.

In all around 12 former employees were affected and received between £200 and £300 less than they expected.

About half have now been recompensed but the GMB has contacted the reconciliation service Acas as a precaution if Sports Direct doesn’t speed up in sorting the remaining six or so outstanding issues and it is felt a tribunal is necessary.

One 40-year-old ex-worker, who did not wish to be identified, said: “This is typical of the firm. I feel bitter about the whole Sports Direct experience. I worked at that site at Martland Park for 15 years and the pay and conditions got worse under Mike Ashley. It was case of ‘come back Dave Whelan, all is forgiven’.

“We had no pay rise in the time Ashley was in charge apart from near the end when it went up from £8.21 to £8.25 an hour to keep up with the minimum wage. Otherwise it was all about hitting targets.

“Now for us to be underpaid by up to £300 just takes the biscuit. I’m still looking for a new job and I need that cash.”

GMB regional officer Sandra Blight said: “Far be it from me to defend Sports Direct, but I do feel the issues affecting about 12 former staff at the Wigan site were due not to anything malicious but a lack of information passed over when JJB went into administration.

“Some packages, for instance, were miscalculated on the wrong daily rate or there was inaccurate long service information. Half have now been dealt with and I have been onto Sports Direct again about the remainder, because they have been slow.

“Acas is on standby if things do go to tribunal but I’m hoping it won’t come to that.”