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PAY-GRUBBING bosses should face the clink if they fail to pay their staff the minimum wage, trade unionists said yesterday as fat cats were ordered to pay millions back to short-changed workers.
Government investigators from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have “named and shamed” 260 employers and told them to cough up £1.7 million in back pay to 16,000 workers. Tight-fisted firms will also have to fork out about £1.3 million in fines.
The top four worst companies on the list are two zero-hours contract recruiters, Best Connection Group and Transline, which enlist workers for Sports Direct. Third and fourth are Primark and Sports Direct itself.
General union GMB said financial penalties and “shaming” tactics aren’t going far enough to deter modern-day Fagins from picking their employees’ pockets.
Company bosses should prosecuted, it added.
The union spokesman told the Star yesterday: “The BEIS approach to naming and shaming minimum wage dodging employers is a poor substitute for prosecution.
“The 260 guilty companies will now have to pay back a total of £3 million in underpaid wages and fines.
“But no criminal prosecutions have been initiated against employers since the government began its naming and shaming policy, meaning the minimum wage dodging will continue.”
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said: “These companies rake in millions of pounds in profit yet seemingly think it’s OK to cheat workers who are already paid a pittance out of the wages they are legally entitled to. It absolutely stinks.
“It’s impossible to feed and clothe your family and put a roof over their head on the minimum wage, without fat cat bosses trying to scam you out the pay you’ve worked hard for.
“Don’t get me wrong. Of course it’s a good thing these companies are being forced to pay workers and that they’re publicly being named and shamed, but it’s clearly not a deterrent.
“If companies think they can make some extra cash with no real sanction, we’ve seen today that it’s exactly what they’ll do.
“The government should get serious and prosecute employers who rob working people of what they’re owed, otherwise this will happen time and time again.”
Minimum wage dodging has reached “chronic levels” in industries such as retail, hairdressing and hospitality, TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said.
She added: “The government should focus their efforts to ensure that these sectors clean up their act.
“The best way to get fair pay is to join a union. Union members in the private sector earn an average 8 per cent more.”
Worst four of the 260 companies were: Connection Group Limited, Bromsgrove, which failed to pay £469,273.83 to 2,558 workers,
Qualitycourse Limited trading as Transline Group owes £310,302.12 to 1,421 workers.
Sports Direct underpaid 383 workers by £167,036.24.
Primark Stores Limited failed to pay £231,973.12 to 9,735 workers.
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