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P&O Ferries boss to appear before Holyrood committee

Peter Hebblethwaite will face the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee.

28 March 2022

The chief executive of P&O Ferries is to appear before a Scottish Parliament committee.

Tuesday’s appearance comes after the company announced earlier this month that it would be sacking 800 seafarers and replacing them with agency staff, with workers being told by video message.

Peter Hebblethwaite will face the Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee after having already sat for a Westminster committee last week.

Peter Hebblethwaite appearing before a Westminster committee
Peter Hebblethwaite (House of Commons/PA)

The appearance in Edinburgh comes after UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned Mr Hebblethwaite that a “package of measures” was being pursued to “block” the sacking of staff.

In a letter on Monday, Mr Shapps said: “I will be bringing a comprehensive package of measures to Parliament to ensure that seafarers are protected against these types of actions in the way that Parliament and this Government already intended.

“Through that package, I intend to block the outcome that P&O Ferries has pursued, including paying workers less than the minimum wage.”

The measures could be revealed as early as Wednesday.

Mr Hebblethwaite has also been criticised north of the border, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying she had made clear her “utter disgust” at the job cuts.

Committee convener Dean Lockhart wrote to Mr Hebblethwaite the day after the decision was announced, urging him to appear as soon as possible.

He wrote: “The Net Zero, Energy and Transport Committee is extremely concerned about yesterday’s news that around 800 of P&O’s staff have been sacked, reportedly with immediate effect, and that services, including the Cairnryan-Larne line, have been suspended, ruining passengers’ travel plans.

“I am writing to request an urgent update so that the committee may reflect on its immediate scrutiny in relation to this matter.”

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