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Sports Direct urged to cut ties with controversial Transline human resources group

Working conditions at Sports Direct have come under scrutiny in recent months

The sports retailer has been advised to break its links with human resources agency Transline. Transline Group is based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, and until recently was a relatively little-known employment agency; however, the company’s relationship with Sports Direct has thrown it into the limelight.

An undercover investigation by the Guardian in 2015 found that workers at Sports Direct’s Shirebrook warehouse in Derbyshire were earning less than the minimum wage.

The expose resulted in Transline, Sports Direct and another employment agency, The Best Connection, being forced to make back payments amounting to around £1m to short-changed workers. The companies were also subject to a parliamentary select committee hearing.

The results of this hearing were released in a report in July. MPs accused Sports Direct of failing to treat its employees like human, comparing the company’s working practices to those of a Victorian workhouse; in response, Sports Direct said it treated its staff with dignity and respect.

The committee has now turned its criticism on Transline, claiming the company has lacked credibility in the evidence it gave to the Sports Direct inquiry. MPs are now urging the major sports retailer to cut all ties with the recruitment agency.

Addressing Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, the chairman of the BIS select committee, Iain Wright, said the company should break its links with Transline and address poor contractual terms to make a real improvement to the working conditions of the company’s warehouse staff.

In addition, the BIS committee said it was considering advising the Commons that the Transline company directors were not fit to run the company due to concerns over their relationship with the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, which regulates companies that supply staff to the food and drink sector.

Transline was founded in 1989 by Jonathan Taylor and Paul Beasley; together with a third director, Mark Elms, they each own five per cent of the business. The remaining 85 per cent is held by another director named Colin Beasley. The company has refused to explain the relationship between Colin Beasley and Paul Beasley.

Responding to BIS concerns, Transline said it had supplied the committee with accurate information, adding that it would continue to assist the committee with its investigation. It also said comments regarding Transline company directors were inappropriate and unjust and said it would be seeing legal advice.

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