Grant Shapps believes the ‘brazen’ ferry boss should resign

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – P&O Ferries’ boss should resign, according to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, for his brazen, astounding arrogance in admitting violating the law over a mass sacking.

The cabinet minister accused the company of a weasel attitude, and claimed he would modify the law to force a U-turn and prevent the ferry company from paying its employees less than the minimum wage.

It comes after P&O CEO Peter Hebblethwaite conceded to MPs that the firm broke the law when it sacked 800 people without cause.

He thinks what the boss of P&O stated yesterday about intentionally breaking the law was brazen and astonishing, and showed terrible arrogance, the transport secretary told Sky News.

He couldn’t believe he was still in that position after admitting to going out of his way to use a loophole – well, violating the law, but also using a loophole.

When asked if he meant he wanted Mr Hebblethwaite to resign, he replied, “Yes.”

Apart from on domestic routes, Mr Hebblethwaite, whose base annual income is £325,000, admitted that its new crews received as little as £5.15 an hour that is lower than the minimum wage of £8.91 in the UK – but argued that this was permissible under international maritime laws.

The firm will be obliged to make a U-turn

Mr. Shapps explained, what he is going to do is present a package of measures to parliament this week that will both shut every potential loophole and force them to reverse course on this.

People working from Britain’s ports… sailing regular routes between here and Holland, here and France or (anywhere else) and without paying the minimum wage are not welcome.

It’s simply intolerable, and they will push for that to change.

He continued, his message to P&O was simple: their scheme will not succeed.

“We are going to legally require them to go back on it they might as well start on that now.

If they don’t have the correct leadership in place right now, and he believes everyone witnessed through that brazen, breathtaking hubris that they don’t, then they’ll probably have to think about that first, he added.

‘P&O did not give a notice

P&O Ferries was attempting to “distract attention” from its failure to provide notice of job cuts, according to Mr Shapps, by claiming it notified him of its plans last year.

Mr Hebblethwaite said that Mr Shapps was aware of the plan to cut jobs in November, while the Department of Transport strongly refuted this.

He had given the notice, from the November meeting with DP World which was a parent company,  when he was at World Expo, when they simply said the competition was very tough, the conditions were very tight, Mr Shapps said. They’ll be assessing the state of their company. That meeting’s official civil service notice has been sent.

He believes it was evident that they were attempting to divert attention.

“The fact is that if you’re creating these kinds of redundancies, you need to give ministers 45 days’ notice, and in fact, you need to give the secretary of state for business 45 days’ notice.

“They didn’t do that; they didn’t give us any notice,” he added.

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.