United Kingdom. Here’s Why Peter Hebblethwaite Was Named ‘World’s Worst Boss’

Suffocation ! Peter Hebblethwaite, managing director of the P & O ferry company, which notably operates the Calais-Dover link, has not only made friends in recent months. Yet, economically very liberal, Britain did not appreciate the methods and style of the boss who was responsible for the outright dismissal of around 800 employees in March. Which earned him, on Monday, November 21, 2022, the election of “the worst boss in the world”, on the sidelines of the Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

We return to the reasons why the first international trade union organization awarded him this award full of irony.

“Your last day of work is today”

The social storm was triggered on Thursday, March 17, 2022. Out of a total of 3,000 employees, the company dismissed 800 employees without notice. With a method that can be described as brutal: the director of human resources announced it in a pre-recorded Zoom video. Immediately, many employees staged protests and refused to disembark from their ships. The 24-second clip has gone viral.

In response, P&O hired private hooded security guards to force them out, according to Daily mail .

The letter from the CEO that was sent to the employees in the process also did not pass. In addition to euphemizing the layoff plan, he directly asks those who are unhappy “refrain from public comment” and consider it to be “important that we avoid writing comments or opinions on social media”.

Record profits and foreign labor

A few months later, DP World, owner of P&O Ferries, announced a record profit. Enough to respond to one of the UK’s main union bosses, who described the Dubai-based group as “corporate gangsters”. He protested the replacement of dismissed employees with Colombians and temps to reduce the payroll by 50%. These new seafarers are paid £5.50 an hour, less the UK national minimum wage of £8.91.

P&O continued to say that its cost model was unsustainable and that the company, hit hard by the pandemic and the collapse in international travel, was losing £100m. per year.

Illegality assumed before Parliament

Very badly received, the announcement of the layoffs had led to a battle with Boris Johnson’s government, which had immobilized part of the company’s fleet.

A few days later, Peter Hebblethwaite was summoned to appear before a parliamentary commission. And his speech was out of place to say the least. CEO admits he broke law by skipping mandatory union negotiations over layoffs “There is no doubt that we were obliged to consult the unions. We didn’t choose that.” he declared. He added that he would make the same decision if he had to do it over again.

An outburst of cynicism and honesty considered scandalous by Grant Shapps, then the government transport minister, who had called for the sacking of the head of P & O Ferries.

Following these shocking dismissals in the UK, UK authorities have launched both criminal and civil investigations. While the criminal charges have been dropped, the civil investigation is still ongoing.

Three other candidates for the title of “worst boss of the year” were in the running: Gina Rinehart at the head of the Australian mining group Hancock Prospecting, Howard Schultz (Starbucks) and Ahmed bin Said Al-Maktoum (Emirates). In the list of “world’s worst boss”, Peter Hebblethwaite follows Jeff Bezos (2014) and Ryanair’s general manager Michael O’Leary (2018).

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