P&O Ferries victim of misinformation, according to its boss

The boss of P&O Ferries has denounced “misinformation” about the company since it laid off nearly 800 sailors.

Chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite also told delegates at an industry conference that he hoped he could “survive” in his role.

P&O Ferries has been widely condemned after laying off 786 crew without notice and replacing them with cheaper temps on March 17.

P&O Ferries suspended most crossings after the layoffs (Gareth Fuller/PA)

(PA wire)

Politicians and trade unions claimed the decision endangered ship safety.

Speaking at the Shippax conference, which took place earlier this week on a cruise ship crossing the Baltic Sea, Mr Hebblethwaite said: “There is a huge amount of misinformation out there.

“We did not conduct ourselves that day, or since, in the manner that was suggested to me and to us.”

He added that the future of the business is “very exciting” as he expressed hope that he will “survive the next few months” as chief executive.

It comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps made his final appeal last week for Mr Hebblethwaite to resign.

Grant Shapps (Gareth Fuller/PA)

(PA wire)

The Cabinet Secretary told the Commons Transport Select Committee ‘he will have to go’, adding that it was ‘completely untenable’ that Mr Hebblethwaite would keep his role.

Mr Hebblethwaite admitted to MPs in March that P&O Ferries broke the law by failing to consult unions before firing its workers.

The Insolvency Service conducts criminal and civil investigations.

Martyn Gray, chief executive of the Nautilus International union, said: “Peter Hebblethwaite is responsible for the mass dismissal of 786 loyal and dedicated seafarers without notice or consultation.

Fifty days into a self-imposed crisis, Hebblethwaite and the P&O Ferries board, unlike their ships, are all at sea

Martyn Gray

“He confessed to a committee of Parliament that he had breached UK employment law and brazenly admitted he would make the same decision again.

“Fifty days into a self-imposed crisis, Hebblethwaite and the board of P&O Ferries, unlike their ships, are all at sea.

“The company has taken five times longer than expected to resume operations and this remains partial.

“P&O Ferries and Peter Hebblethwaite not only treated their crew with contempt, but showed contempt for the rule of law in this country.”

Last week P&O Ferries insisted it was ‘now a modern, dynamic, competitive and viable business’, and urged the government to have a ‘constructive dialogue’ about the future.

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