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Issue #1744      August 17, 2016

Wage thieves outed

BRITAIN: Football clubs joined care homes and hairdressers in a roll call of shame yesterday as a record 198 companies were named as failing to pay even the meagre minimum wage to their staff. Among the offenders was a pub in David Cameron’s constituency which was once frequented by “Chipping Norton set” celebs including former Sun editor Rebekah Brooks.

Brighton and Hove Albion, which plays in the Championship, was found to owe £2,861.64 to one worker, while League Two side Blackpool had to pay out £517.88.

Among the worst offenders were Italian restaurant chain San Lorenzo, which boasts of being “unchanged by modern trends.” It had to shell out £99,541.98 to 30 workers. Derby-based Premier Recruitment paid out £34,797.33 to 424 workers and hairdressing giant Regis paid out £25,712.19 to 604 workers.

The list of losers also includes at least 20 social care providers – a sector where bosses are known to regularly flout minimum wage legislation. Companies providing home visits have been exposed for refusing to pay carers for their travel time between assignments.

Careworkers’ union Unison leader Dave Prentis said: “It’s good to see these companies named and shamed. But this represents just a tiny fraction of those employers who are still not paying the minimum wage to home care workers for travel time.

“Unison wants to see action against all those firms which are failing to pay their workers fairly.” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the scale of underpayment was “truly eyewatering” and called on the government to “redouble” its crackdown.

“Ministers are absolutely right to name and shame these companies, but we also need to see prosecutions for the worst offenders,” she said.

“We know that thousands more rogue employers are cheating their staff and getting away with it.”

She warned that the law alone would not solve the problem of unscrupulous bosses.

“Unions stand up for workers getting less pay than they deserve,” she added. “Joining a union is one of the best things you can do to improve your pay packet.”

Tory Business Minister Margot James said: “It is not acceptable that some employers fail to pay at least the minimum wage their workers are entitled to.”

But Green peer Lady Jones said only a “real living wage” would end poverty pay.

Last week, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn included a call for a £10 an hour compulsory living wage in the 10 policy pledges of his re-election campaign.

Owen Smith, his rival for the party leadership, promised the biggest pay rise “in a generation,” with minimum pay of £8.25 an hour.

His critics said that this was less than the government’s promise to increase the minimum rate to £9 an hour by 2020 under its own “living wage,” although the Tory scheme only applies to workers over 25.

Morning Star

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