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From The Socialist newspaper, 22 February 2017

Argos fails to pay staff minimum wage - taxman cuts fine in half!

The Socialist Party campaigns for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to 10 an hour, photo by Paul Mattsson

The Socialist Party campaigns for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to 10 an hour, photo by Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Tom Costello, Lancashire Socialist Party

Retail giant Argos has recently been caught red-handed paying 37,000 workers less than the national minimum wage.

Following an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs, the retailer has been made to pay back 2.4 million in unpaid wages after they made workers attend staff briefings and carry out security checks out of paid hours.

Chief executive John Rogers has come out to provide an explanation for this, saying that "unexpected things do come up as we get to grips with the business."

We should all laugh at such a poor excuse. But the fact that Argos has been profiting off millions of pounds in unpaid labour is not the only travesty here.

What is truly despicable is the paltry fine imposed on Argos's parent company, Sainsbury's. While they were at first going to be made to pay 1.5 million, the taxman has cut the fine almost in half - to just 800,000 - for prompt payment.

This is while Sainsbury's group, in 2013-14 alone, had a total income of 435 million after tax! True, it posted a one-off loss last year, its first in a decade - but of less than half this figure. It really shows us whose side HM Revenue and Customs is on.

Stories such as this are unsettlingly common, and they all demonstrate that, no matter what, capitalists will always look for a new way to steal and to exploit.

Why has Labour not acknowledged this? Surely a Labour Party that takes on thieving big business giants could win unparalleled levels of support among working people.

It is because of stories like this that the Socialist Party calls for business giants like Sainsbury's to be nationalised and placed under democratic workers' control and management.

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