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Deplorable: Mike Ashley criticised by politicians for...

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...snubbing bids to help sacked Scots workers.


RANGERS shareholder Mike Ashley has been accused of deplorable behaviour after he repeatedly rebuffed attempts by ministers to offer help to warehouse employees who his firm had abruptly made redundant.


Business Minister Fergus Ewing has expressed "extreme concern and disappointment" at the conduct of Mr Ashley's Sports Direct, the parent company of clothing chain USC which the billionaire allowed to go into administration this month costing 88 employees their jobs at its base in Dundonald, Ayrshire.


It has emerged that the Scottish Government made a series of urgent but unsuccessful attempts to contact bosses and offer help to the employees, leading an MSP to question whether Mr Ashley was a fit and proper person to own Rangers.


It is understood that representatives from PACE - a Scottish Government initiative which offers advice to workers made redundant - travelled to the warehouse after attempts to make contact with company bosses were ignored but were denied access to the site to speak directly with employees for several days.


Workers are believed to have not been offered redundancy pay from the firm, while some are owed cash dating back to mid-December.


Sports Direct representatives also refused to return phone calls from the highest levels of the Scottish Government. Despite Mr Ewing writing to Mr Ashley and requesting an immediate response, he only received an acknowledgement of his letter.


Scottish Enterprise chief executive Lena Wilson also attempted to make contact with Mr Ashley before Dave Forsey, the CEO of Sports Direct, wrote to Mr Ewing on January 14, a week after the first attempts to make contact with the firm, confirming that USC had been put into administration. Ms Wilson received no response, despite numerous attempts to follow-up her letter.


MSP Adam Ingram, whose constituency includes the Dundonald warehouse, accused Mr Ashley of showing "complete contempt" for his employees.


"He's got £10 million in his pocket to try and take control of Rangers but he won't pay his workers wages they are due or make any redundancy payments," he said. "He's refused to respond to the minister when he's been trying to get help for the workforce, who only found out they were losing their jobs when nine Sports Direct container lorries arrived to strip the warehouse of stock.


"It's deplorable behaviour and calls in to question whether Mike Ashley is a fit and proper person to own a football club according to the SFA rules. He is not someone I would want taking over any Scottish institution given how he's treated these workers."


It has been confirmed that another of Mr Ashley's subsidiaries, Republic, has bought USC from administrators.


The entrepreneur, who also owns Newcastle United, this week pocketed £117m after selling a 2.6 per cent stake in Sports Direct. According to Forbes magazine, Ashley, who owns just under 10 per cent of Rangers shares but wields a huge amount of power at the club, is worth £3.3billion making him the 293rd richest person in the world.


A response to a parliamentary question reveals the PACE team was urgently trying to make contact with the firm throughout January 7, when news of the redundancies broke.


Mr Ewing's office and PACE made repeated attempts to contact the company the following day by email and phone with no success, while the issue was also raised on First Minister's Questions. Mr Ewing wrote to Mr Forsey the following day, before Scottish Enterprise began efforts to make contact with a senior figure at Sports Direct and appeals were sent directly to Mr Ashley.


After the attempts to contact Sports Direct were unsuccessful, PACE representatives travelled to Dundonald on January 8 where they spoke with representatives and left 150 copies of a guide for affected employees. They were eventually allowed on-site to give presentations to workers on January 13.


A motion lodged at the Scottish Parliament by Mr Ingram, which condemns the actions of Mr Ashley and calls on him to ensure employees are paid what they are owed has so far attracted support from 22 other MSPs.


Sports Direct declined to comment.



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the way he has set up his sports direct shops means he can close one that is not paying if any or for any reason all shops are set up on their own so if it goes bust that would probably mean no money for redundancy payments so the government would have to pay as big mike pockets a fortune from his other shops .

the mans a bounder

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