COMMENT: It has taken far too long for Parliament to take notice of how Sports Direct treats its staff

Campaigners sing a hymn about exploitation outside Sport Direct store in Mansfield
Campaigners sing a hymn about exploitation outside Sport Direct store in Mansfield

It’s been a long time coming but the eyes and the scrutiny of the national media and Parliament has finally turned its gaze onto treatment of staff at the Sports Direct warehouse in Shirebrook.

Not only have we had a major investigation into the retailer and its owner Mike Ashley, but our politicians joined forces in Parliament this week to condemn the company and to call for an urgent investigation by HMRC.

Trade union campaigners and church activists have also been in town to protest at the company – launching into an ironic Christmas carol aimed at Mr Ashley and his sporting business empire – calling for better treatment of workers and an end to the company’s extensive use of zero-hour contracts.

We have known about the goings on at Sports Direct for a very long time.

We were the first newspaper group to report concerns about the firm’s employment record, after a young migrant worker gave birth in the company toilets on New Year’s Day 2014 – allegedly too terrified of losing her job, or gaining a “strike”, to ask to go home.

This was followed up by a major investigation of our own, where we spoke to many employees and former employees about working conditions inside what is known as the “Gulag”.

So it was gratifying when the Guardian came to the Chad’s offices to talk about the work we had done, asking us to feed into their own extensive investigation.

It is, however, a shame that it has taken a publication such as the Guardian to get involved before this ongoing commercial shame has finally had an “outing” in Parliament - when much of the Guardian’s impressive probe was in the public domain almost two years ago.

It is also disappointing that, according to House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, an element of back-room manoeuvring went on from the Government to keep the debate out of the house.

What I would ask now is that the pressure stays on this company from our media and from our elected representatives in Parliament to ensure a fairer deal for all the people from our community who work for Sports Direct.

I would also ask Mr Ashley to do the right thing by all the people who have made him a very rich man.