P&O chief executive Peter Hebblethwaite voted ‘worst boss in the world’

published on Monday, November 21, 2022 at 12:19 p.m.

Responsible for the express dismissal of some 800 employees in March, the general manager of the ferry company P&O Peter Hebblethwaite was elected Monday “worst boss in the world” on the sidelines of the Congress of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

After an online vote open to all, the boss of the British carrier won 39% of the 3,711 votes cast, ahead of his American counterpart from Amazon Jeff Bezos (25%) and the CEO of the Australian airline Qantas. Alan Joyce (20%), the confederation told AFP.

The CSI, which organized the vote on the occasion of its quadrennial Congress in Melbourne, had selected three other candidates for the title of “worst boss of the year”: Gina Rinehart at the head of the Australian mining group Hancock Prospecting, Howard Schultz (Starbucks) and Ahmed bin Said Al-Maktoum (Emirates).

The “disgrace” of Peter Hebblethwaite “reaches international heights after being voted the worst boss in the world”, commented Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the transport union federation ITF, in a press release from the ITUC.

For him, CEOs are “warned: if you do not defend the rights of workers and guarantee them decent jobs, safe working conditions, respect and dignity, the international trade union movement will not fail to ask you accounts.”

After a ballot opened on October 19 and closed on Sunday, Peter Hebblethwaite was sanctioned by Internet users for having dismissed almost 800 sailors overnight and replacing them with workers paid below the British minimum wage.

In his defence, the P&O boss kept repeating that the company’s cost model was unsustainable and that it was losing £100m a year.

He had stunned a parliamentary commission by explaining that the leaders of P&O had knowingly broken the law, dispensing with union negotiations, which were nevertheless mandatory.

Following these shocking dismissals in the UK, British authorities have launched both criminal and civil investigations.

On the list of “worst boss in the world”, Peter Hebblethwaite succeeds Jeff Bezos (2014) and Ryanair general manager Michael O’Leary (2018).

On Monday, the ITUC’s new general secretary, the Italian Luca Visentini, also gave his first speech the day after his election.

He vowed to “fight relentlessly” to achieve “social justice and peace” for workers around the world, according to a statement.

“We want jobs that do not harm the climate, rights for workers, fair wages, social protection, equality and inclusion”, listed Luca Visentini, who succeeds Australian Sharan Burrow, in position since 2010.

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