USC workers win case against Mike Ashley's Sports Direct

 
Catherine Neilan
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USC staff "showed courage in standing up to and beating a rich and powerful employer like Mike Ashley" (Source: Getty)

Workers at fashion chain USC that was put into administration by parent company Sports Direct earlier this year have won a legal battle against the firm, giving them redundancy pay that could run into thousands of pounds each.

Staff had complained that they were given just 15 minutes notice before they lost their jobs. In total 88 workers at the warehouse in Dundonald, Ayrshire, were made redundant in January. USC was subsequently bought out by Sports Direct's Republic chain.

The judgement found that there had been "no discussion or consultation regarding alternatives of information as to redundancies".

Administrators Duff & Phelps will now have to set money aside for the former employees, which is expected to cover a standard 90-day notice period.

Thompsons Solicitors acted on behalf of 50 former workers to secure the payout.

Rory McPherson, the partner in charge of Thompsons employment law department, told the Evening Herald: "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 Ashley thinking they can ride roughshod over workers' rights."

Sports Direct came under heavy criticism for its handling of the administration and redundancies, with the Scottish Affairs Select Committee calling on Ashley to give evidence about what exactly took place.

However, the notoriously private tycoon did not attend the session in March, instead sending chairman Keith Hellawell who gave a stuttering performance, revealing huge gaps in his knowledge of Sports Direct affairs and admitting that the retailer's practices were aggressive.

Committee chair Ian Davidson claimed management had no need to shut the Dundonald warehouse, saying they had “callously and deliberately developed a situation where employees got 15 minutes' notice”.

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