P&O Ferries boss Peter Hebblethwaite reportedly repeats mass layoffs Business

In a heated hearing, MPs from the House of Commons Transport and Business Affairs Committees also heard:

  • That P&O pay agency workers as little as £5.15 an hour, below the UK minimum wage
  • Mr Hebblethwaite refused to rule out taking a bonus on top of his £325,000-a-year salary.
  • The P&O chief said the layoffs were not “forced” on us by Dubai-based owner DP World.
  • Union leaders accusing P&O of wanting to “kill” the merchant navy.

P&O is offering generous severance pay of up to £100,000 which means it is unlikely to face legal action from its staff for not consulting them beforehand . Replacing staff with temps will halve the company’s payroll, P&O said.

Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, said: ‘We believe P&O management exploited a loophole here in order to make UK workers redundant.

He added on Twitter: “P&O Ferries has torn up the rights of 800 workers and suspended them. I have called for a comprehensive review of our maritime employment laws and will strengthen protections for seafarers’ minimum wages. “

Because his ships were not under the British flag, Mr Hebblethwaite did not need to inform the government before the layoffs.

However, P&O was obliged to inform the jurisdictions where the ferries were registered, such as Cyprus. It is understood the bosses informed Cypriot authorities on the day the layoffs were announced, rather than the day before, which could put them in breach of the rules.

Andrew Burns QC, a barrister at Devereux Chambers, told the House of Commons hearing: ‘From what I heard this morning, I understand the notice has been given to the appropriate authorities in the countries where ships fly the flag only on the day of dismissal and not in advance.”

In heated questioning, Mr Hebblethwaite defended P&O’s choice to break the law. Consulting militant unions like the RMT “would have been a sham”, he said.

In response to being asked whether or not he would accept a bonus, he added: “I can’t tell you how far out of my mind that is… I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know .”

Tory MP Huw Merriman, chairman of the transport committee, said: “P&O Ferries and its parent company in Dubai have effectively raised two fingers at the UK and its employment laws. I am amazed that Peter Hebblethwaite has readily admitted that P&O had decided to break the law and said he would do it again.

‘It looks like P&O has successfully audited UK labor law in a bid to find a loophole. The job of the Government and Parliament must now be to close it down immediately.’

Sir Roger Gale’s Tory MP for North Thanet said: ‘Honesty seems to have flared up at P&O.’

“What we need is to go back to square one and say, ‘We’re going to rehire everyone who’s been laid off. And we’re going to sit down and negotiate properly. That’s what we want. The [workforce] want their jobs back. Fines of millions of pounds is not going to help those who have lost their jobs. »

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This notice was published: 2022-03-24 20:33:58

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