P&O boss admits he couldn’t live on £4.87 an hour

P&O boss Peter Hebblethwaite earned more than half a million pounds last year

Charlotte Edwards
BBC Business reporter

52 minutes ago

The boss of P&O Ferries has admitted that he couldn’t live on the £4.87 an hour some of its crew are paid, he told MPs.

Peter Hebblethwaite also revealed that he earned more than £500,000 last year, including a bonus.

At a hearing over workers’ rights and protection, Mr Hebblethwaite faced more questions over P&O’s decision to sack hundreds of workers without notice and replace them with agency staff.

He said he was deeply sorry and claimed “we would not make that decision again”.

Mr Hebblethwaite told MPs that the agency workers P&O now uses to crew its boats can be paid as little as £4.87 a hour- that includes overtime and bonuses. On average, P&O workers make £5.20 an hour.

The chief executive said crew is paid in excess of the minimum basic wage set out by international law.

“We are paying considerably ahead of the international standard,” he said.

But Liam Byrne, chair of the Business and Trade Committee, accused Mr Hebblethwaite of “robbing your staff blind”.

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The P&O boss was asked if he could live on £4.87 an hour. “No, I couldn’t,” he replied.

He also admitted that last year he was paid a salary of £325,000 and received a bonus of £183,000 last April.

The ferry group gained notoriety two years ago when it made 786 staff redundant before replacing them with people on lower wages.

“I regret it and I am deeply sorry for the impact it had on 786 seafarers and their families,” he said.

“Let me be absolutely clear, we would not make that decision again.”

But he also said the decision had been necessary to save the company.

Paul Nowak, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, said Mr Hebblethwaite “admitted that he couldn’t live on this poverty rate of pay – but he expects his workers to survive on it”.

He added: “It beggars belief that P&O Ferries has faced no sanctions for its misdeeds and that its parent company DP World has continued to be awarded government contracts.”

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