P&O Ferries boss to appear before Holyrood committee

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

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

Peter Hebblethwaite will face the Net Zero, Energy and Transport committee after serving on a Westminster committee last week.

Peter Hebblethwaite (House of Commons/AP)

The appearance in Edinburgh comes after UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps warned Mr Hebblethwaite that a ‘package of measures’ was underway to ‘block’ the sacking of staff.

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

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

The measures could be unveiled as early as Wednesday.

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

Committee leader 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 by yesterday’s news that around 800 P&O staff have been made redundant, apparently with immediate effect, and that services, including the Cairnryan Line -Larne, were suspended, ruining the passengers’ travel plans.

“I am writing to request an urgent update so that the committee can reflect on its immediate review of this matter.”

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