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Grant Shapps threatens P&O Ferries with ‘package of measures’ to ‘block’ plan

The ferry company sacked 800 crew members without notice on March 17.

28 March 2022

A “package of measures” will “block” P&O Ferries’ plan to replace 800 seafarers with agency workers paid below the UK’s minimum wage, according to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps.

The company caused outrage after sacking its crews with no notice on March 17.

In a letter to P&O chief executive, Peter Hebblethwaite, Mr Shapps wrote: “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 Cabinet minister repeated his call for Mr Hebblethwaite to resign, describing his position as “untenable”.

The minimum wage in the UK for people aged 23 and above is £8.91 per hour.

Mr Hebblethwaite, whose basic annual salary is £325,000, told MPs on March 24 the average pay of the agency crew is £5.50 per hour.

He said this is “an international seafaring model that is consistent with models throughout the globe and our competitors”.

On March 23, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told Parliament: “We’re going to make sure that everybody working in the UK exclusive economic zone gets paid the living wage and we’ll do it as fast as we possibly can.”

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