P&O's boss admits it chose to break law


The CEO of P&O Ferries has told MPs that the company knowingly and deliberately broke employment law when it sacked 800 employees without consultation.

Peter Hebblethwaite (pictured) was appearing before a joint hearing of the Commons business and transport committees with Jesper Kristensen, chief operating officer of the firm’s parent company, DP World.


Asked by Andy McDonald MP whether P&O had duty to consult the unions in good time over the redundancies, pursuant to section 188 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, he replied: ‘There is absolutely no doubt that we were required to consult with the unions. We chose not to do so.’

He later added: ‘It was our assessment that the change was of such a magnitude that no union could possibly accept our proposal.’

Asked by Gavin Newlands MP to clarify ‘for the Committees, for everyone watching and for P&O workers’ what employment law provisions the firm had breached, Mr Hebblethwaite replied: ‘We have not consulted, and for that we are fully compensating people—in full, upfront.’

Transport Select Committee chairman Huw Merriman said after the meeting that Mr Hebblethwaite should resign. He said: ‘It's untenable to come to parliament and say you decided to break the law, you have no regrets.’

The RMT union said called for Mr Hebblethwaite to be disqualified as a director immediately.

General secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘In light of evidence given today by lawyers to MPs, that there have been multiple breaches of the law and the admission of the P&O Chief Executive Peter Hebblethwaite, that the company not only broke the law but would do it again, we are calling for the government to issue a immediate injunction to prevent the ships sailing and reinstate the sacked workers.

‘This should include the government seizing control of the ships if necessary.

‘We are also calling for the immediate disqualification of Peter Hebblethwaite as a Director after he admitted the company broke the law and would do it again.’

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