MPs and the public alike were shocked this week after transport company P&O Ferries suddenly sacked 800 workers.
The company fired its staff via a video call - with no prior notice or consultation for workers - only to turn to using much cheaper agency staff.
Now, CEO Peter Hebblethwaite is being urged to quit from his role after he answered questions from angered politicians who have accused the company of adopting ‘fire and rehire’ practices.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is among those to call for Mr Hebblethwaite to resign.
During a tense grilling at the Transport Committee on 24 March, the boss apologised to those who had been impacted by while also admitting that new agency staff who are operating international routes were only being paid on average £5.50 per hour.
Mr Hebblethwaite and P&O Ferries have come under fire for their actions, but what exactly is his own wage, net worth and what else did he say about the situation?
Here’s everything you need to know
What is Peter Hebblethwaite’s salary?
At the committee, Mr Hebblethwaite revealed that he currently earned a six-figure salary.
When asked by a member of the Transport committee “What’s your salary, Mr Hebblethwaite?”, the CEO replied: “My salary is 300... Basic salary of £325,000.”
This does not include any bonuses he receives, with Mr Hebblethwaite confirming that he has “access” to two performance bonus pots.
He said: “I have access to two performance-related bonuses, a short-term incentive plan, and a long-term incentive plan.”
When pressed by the committee, the P&O Ferries boss skirted around whether he would accept any bonus payments in the wake of the mass redundancies.
To a question of whether he would accept the bonuses, he replied: “I don’t know the answer to that if we manage to save the company.”
The member pressed him more, asking: “Well it’s a decision for you if I’m offering you a performance-related bonus and you’ve just sacked 800 people, will you as a point of principle say, I’m not going to take that?”
Mr Hebblethwaite replied: I don’t know the answer to that, I’ve got to be honest... I’m not focused on that, I’m focused on saving the business and getting the 800 seafarers new jobs.”
How much is Peter Hebblethwaite worth?
There is no specific amount for Mr Hebblethwaite’s net worth.
However, in terms of assets, he and his wife are known to have bought a £1.5 million property in the affluent Cotswolds area.
Land records show that the couple bought the farmhouse, situated just outside Cirencester, in 2019.
The home is believed to include a heated swimming pool, as well as stables on six acres of land.
What did Peter Hebblethwaite say about the P&O sackings?
Mr Hebblethwaite opened up on the decision to sack the British seafarers and instead rely on cheaper agency staff at the committee hearing.
He said: “We weren’t viable before, and I know that if we hadn’t made radical changes the business would have closed, and I apologise for that.
“But genuinely, that would not have been 800 redundancies with substantial severance packages, that would have been 3,000 people losing their jobs.”
However, he went on to admit that P&O Ferries has potentially broken employment law by not giving those sacked a period of consultancy before the end of their employment.
Mr Hebblethwaite said: “We thought long and hard about the routes to this and we did consider every single option available to us.
“We concluded that every single option available to us would result in the closure of P&O.
“We assessed that given the fundamental nature of change, no union could accept it and therefore we chose not to consult because a consultation process would have been a sham.
“We didn’t want to put anybody through that. We are compensating people in full and up-front for that decision.”
He also spoke about the rate of pay for new workers.
Replacement agency staff are being paid only £5.50, well below the minimum wage for ages 23 and over, which currently sits at £8.91.
Mr Hebblethwaite said: “On the routes that are international routes, that are governed by ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) standards, we are paying above ITF minimum wages.
“Where we are governed by national minimum wage, we will absolutely pay national minimum wage.
“This is an international seafaring model that is consistent with models throughout the globe and our competitors.”
Who is calling on Peter Hebblethwaite to resign?
The situation and Mr Hebblethwaite’s comments during the committee hearing has garnered the ire of UK politicians, who are now calling on him to resign.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps signalled his wishes for him to quit as CEO of P&O Ferries during an interview with Sky News.
He said: “I thought what the boss of P&O said about knowingly breaking the law was brazen and breathtaking, and showed incredible arrogance.
“I cannot believe that he can stay in that role having admitted to deliberately go out and use a loophole – well, break the law, but also use a loophole.”
When asked directly if he thought he should quit “right now”, Mr Shapps replied: “Yes.”
A Number 10 spokesperson has also confirmed that Boris Johnson backs the call for Mr Hebblethwaite to quit.
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