P&O Ferries Under Fire AGAIN As CEO Faces Allegations

Amidst allegations of exploitative labour practices, P&O Ferries’ CEO, Peter Hebblethwaite, faced parliamentary scrutiny over low wages and executive compensation, igniting debates about fairness and accountability in the maritime industry. Here’s the full story.

Cost of Living Crisis

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With the UK economy officially out of recession, many families and individuals around the country hope that they will benefit from the better economic times by receiving a raise. This might help with the crushing and longstanding cost of living crisis that is affecting the country.

Stagnant Wages

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However, despite news reports that the economy is performing better, not everyone is likely to receive a better wage anytime soon. 

Doubling Pay

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One group that will see a wage increase is the staff of P&O Ferries, who, due to new French laws and ones due to come into effect in the UK in the summer, will see their wage almost double. 

Criminally Low

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However, the massive increase in their wages is only possible because of the criminally low wages they are currently receiving. 

Waves of Controversy

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P&O Ferries has faced waves of controversy around its employment practices after the company decided to fire hundreds of workers in 2022 and replace them with low-paid agency staff. 

Business and Trade Committee

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The outrage was so severe that, following a joint Guardian and ITV News expose, the government began to take legislative action and forced P&O Ferries boss Peter Hebblethwaite to appear before the business and trade committee.

“Modern Day Slavery”

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During the scathing parliamentary hearing, Hebblethwaite faced a series of questions which began by accusing him of theft and ended with him being charged with participating in what Labour MP Andy McDonald called “modern-day slavery.”

£5.15 an Hour

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The joint investigation from the Guardian and ITV showed that some agency workers, often sourced from the global south, were hired after the mass firing of P&O staff in 2022 and earned as little as £5.15 an hour.

£4.87 an Hour

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However, later reporting showed that the truth was even more shocking: some P&O agency staff were earning as little as £4.87 per hour, well below the UK minimum wage, which currently stands at £11.44 an hour. 

Creative Accounting

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P&O was able to get away with this creative accounting as the UK minimum wage does not extend to maritime employees working on foreign-registered ships in international waters under overseas agencies, the model employed by P&O. Due to this loophole, the rates paid to these workers are technically entirely legal.

“Modern-Day Pirate”

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Liam Byrne MP, the business and trade committee chair, began the questioning by asking Hebblethwaite, “Are you basically a modern-day pirate?” He continued, “You seem to be robbing your staff blind.”

Poverty Wages

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Hebblethwaite attempted to defend the grim reality of the poverty wages paid to P&O agency staff by arguing that without the job losses and the low pay rates, “P&O would not be here today.”


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He admitted that “the lowest, fully consolidated hourly pay is about £4.87.”

“No, I Couldn’t”

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Hebblethwaite was then asked whether he could live on the pittance he was paying the agency workers, to which he admitted, “No, I couldn’t.”


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The P&O boss was then asked about his annual salary, which, at a basic wage, begins at £325,000 and is considerably more than £4.87 an hour. 

£183,000 Bonus

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Following the revelation that Hebblethwaite received a £183,000 bonus in April 2023, the P&O boss attempted to defend his decision to accept it, stating, “I reflected on accepting that payment. But ultimately I did decide to accept it. I do recognise it is not a decision that everybody would have made.”

“Very Difficult Decision”

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Hebblethwaite added, “We recognise that we made a very difficult decision two years ago, one that was legal and one that I wish we had never ever had to make in the first place.”

2,000 Jobs

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He continued, “But we also have to acknowledge that without that difficult decision P&O would not be here today and we would not have been able to preserve the 2,000 jobs we have been able to preserve, take the 135,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions that we have taken out of our carbon footprint, open up new routes and continue to serve the most important trade route between the UK and the continent.”

“Modern-Day Slavery”

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Despite Hebblethwaite’s assertions, critics, including members of parliament and trade union representatives, have condemned the company’s employment practices as profoundly exploitative and akin to “modern-day slavery.” 

Public Outrage

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The disparity between his pay and crew wages has fueled public outrage and calls for accountability. 

Cornsering Working Conditions

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Concerns have also been raised about the awful working conditions onboard P&O vessels, with allegations of prolonged work hours and minimal time off.

Labour Rights vs Corporate Ethics

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The revelations surrounding P&O Ferries’ slave wages have ignited debates about labour rights, corporate ethics, and the need for considerably more oversight into paying workers on agency contracts. 

Uncertain Future

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However, whether this will lead to workers in a vital industry receiving the pay they deserve remains to be seen. 

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The post “Modern Day Slavery” – P&O Ferries Under Fire AGAIN As CEO Faces Allegations first appeared on Edge Media.

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Grant Gallacher is a seasoned writer with expertise in politics and impactful daily news. His work, deeply rooted in addressing issues that resonate with a wide audience, showcases an unwavering commitment to bringing forth the stories that matter. He is also known for satirical writing and stand up comedy.

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