C&O chief Peter Hebblethwaite has been told to sling his hook and walk the plank (you plank) over his firm’s illegal sackings of 800 staff – while Grant Shapps suggested he may change law to reinstate axed ferry workers
Boris Johnson tonight supported the growing calls for shameless P&O chief Peter Hebblethwaite to step down.
Asked if the PM thought the CEO should quit after admitting he knew his cull of 800 staff was illegal, No10 replied: “Yes.”
And Grant Shapps accused Mr Hebblethwaite of showing “incredible arrogance” in his “brazen” lawbreaking. The Transport Secretary said: “I think he should go.”
Grant Shapps tonight demanded P&O boss Peter Hebblethwaite quit over his scandalous admission the firm knew they were breaking the law when they sacked 800 staff.
And Boris Johnson backed the growing calls for the fatcat CEO to step down after the seafarers were axed and replaced with agency workers on less than half the minimum wage.
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It came as union chiefs accused P&O bosses of acting obnoxiously when the latest talks broke down after just 20 minutes.
Mr Shapps also suggested a change in the law could force P&O to reinstate crew.
But the Transport Secretary’s demands came just months after he had praised the head of P&O Ferries’ Dubai owners, DP World, it emerged today.
Asked about Mr Hebblethwaite’s admission that the mass cull was unlawful, Mr Shapps said: “I thought what the boss of P&O said about knowingly breaking the law was brazen and breathtaking, and showed incredible arrogance. I cannot believe that he can stay in that role. I think he should go.”
No10 was asked whether Mr Johnson supports the call for £325,000-a-year Mr Hebblethwaite to quit and replied: “Yes.”
Passengers were tonight urged to boycott P&O after the CEO’s appearance before a parliamentary committee where he told MPs: “There is absolutely no doubt that we were required to consult the union. We chose not to do that.”
Mr Hebblethwaite, who lives in a £1.5million Cotswolds house, also refused to turn down a bonus and claimed he would break the law again, saying it was necessary to save the firm. The RMT union said during talks with the ferry firm, bosses showed “obnoxiousness and hostility”.
James Maloney/Lancs Live)
General secretary Mick Lynch said: “P&O were not prepared to listen to any scenario or develop any idea that would provide a means to create a solution to the current disastrous situation. RMT will continue to press the Government for an immediate intervention to make P&O perform a U-turn and get our members reinstated.
“We call on the labour movement, the public, the freight and logistics sector and political community to support a total boycott of all P&O services.” P&O insisted it approached the RMT and Nautilis talks with “nothing but professionalism”.
It added: “We conducted the meeting in good faith, to suggest anything else is completely untrue.”
Mr Shapps claimed ministers were planning to change the law to ensure firms working out of British ports pay the minimum wage, after Mr Hebblethwaite admitted some of the replacement staff were getting just £5.15 an hour.
He said: “P&O will need to re-employ people on the proper salaries.”
Julian Hamilton/Daily Mirror)
No10 has asked the Insolvency Service to investigate whether the CEO and others have broken company law. It has been given a deadline of April 8 to report back. TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the P&O sacking crisis was a “watershed moment” for the UK shipping industry and workers’ rights.
She said: “P&O’s owner must be given pariah status and lose all its government shipping and freeport contracts with immediate effect until workers are reinstated.”
P&O has insisted it sacked the 800 workers in a bid to ensure the firm stayed viable.
It claimed that had the drastic action not been taken, the firm would close “with the loss of 3,000 jobs”.
Mr Shapps met DP World chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem at Dubai’s EXPO event in November. Minutes from the meeting showed the company chief raised concerns about a “low-cost competitor from Irish Ferries”.
Mr Shapps told him he was aware of the issues and said: “I appreciate everything you’ve done to support P&O.”