P&O Ferries CEO acknowledges inability to survive on low seafarers’ wages

P&O FERRIES CEO Peter Hebblethwaite faced backlash for admitting workers were paid under £5 an hour. The TUC criticized his lack of remorse for illegal sackings and poverty pay. Despite earning £508,000, Hebblethwaite defended the low wages, sparking calls for a New Deal for Working People to protect seafarers from exploitation.
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P&O Ferries CEO Peter Hebblethwaite faced criticism from the RMT union and the TUC after admitting in Parliament that some workers on its ferries were paid less than £5 an hour. Despite acknowledging that he could not live on the wages being paid to seafarers, Hebblethwaite insisted that the company was not exploiting its workers and resisted calls for an independent investigation into its employment practices.

The company had previously fired over 780 workers and replaced them with lower-paid staff from an external crewing agency, leading to accusations of illegal sackings and poverty pay. Despite admitting that the mass sacking was unlawful, the Insolvency Service chose not to pursue criminal proceedings against P&O Ferries. The scandal has highlighted the need for stronger protections for maritime workers and a mandatory seafarers’ charter to prevent exploitation in the industry.

The TUC and RMT have called for accountability for P&O Ferries and its parent company DP World, with demands for government action to address the mistreatment of workers. The government has promised to close the wage loophole that allowed for the low pay of seafarers and expects new legislation to address the issue to come into effect soon. Hebblethwaite has agreed to sign a voluntary Seafarers’ Charter committing the company to pay maritime workers at least the minimum wage in British waters, but concerns remain about potential future layoffs and staffing changes.

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