MPs stunned as P&O Ferries admit that company had broken the law

Peter Hebblethwaite before the Transport Committee Credit: House of Parliament Twitter

MPs stunned as P&O Ferries admit that company had broken the law when its CEO appeared before the Transport Committee on March 24 to explain the sacking of 800 seamen.

When questioned, Peter Hebblethwaite said there was “absolutely no doubt” that under UK employment law the firm was required to consult unions before making the mass cuts.

The justification was that as it considered it highly unlikely that unions would agree to the plan,

it was easier to just go ahead, get rid of them and offer full compensation.

The following day, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “I thought what the boss of P&O said yesterday about knowingly breaking the law was brazen and breath taking, and showed incredible arrogance.”

He then went on to agree that he believed that having broken the law and used a ‘loophole’ to get round it meant that he should resign immediately, joining similar calls from MPs, unions and sacked staff.

The whole matter boils down to money as UK workers were entitled to receive the minimum wage for those 23 or over of £9.50 per hour whilst Hebblethwaite told the committee that foreign agency workers would be paid £5.50 per hour, which is in line with international maritime standards.

In addition, during questioning, he indicated that he believed (although not present at the meeting) that on November 22 last, the Transport Secretary was in Dubai and had discussions with executives from DP World, owners of P&O Ferries who indicated that they may need to make changes in the company without being more specific.

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