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ITUC World Congress: P&O’s Peter Hebblethwaite wins worst boss poll

21 Nov 2022

His award was announced at the 5th ITUC World Congress in Melbourne, Australia, where nearly 1,000 trade unionist from 122 countries are meeting.

“First, Hebblethwaite became Britain’s most hated boss when he illegally sacked 786 seafarers. Then he was voted the worst employer in Europe by the Congress of the European Transport Workers’ Federation in May," said ITF General Secretary Stephen Cotton from the ITUC Congress in Melbourne.

"He then had to drop off the panel of an industry event in the US after union pressure and a scathing letter from the Chair of the US House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Democrat Peter De Fazio, called for him to be removed as a panellist."

“And now Hebblethwaite's disgrace has reached international heights being voted the Worst Boss in the World," said Cotton.

P&O Ferries illegally fired 786 seafarers in March on a pre-recorded Zoom call, a breach of UK laws on consultation and notification. Hebblethwaite shamelessly admitted to breaking the law when questioned by lawmakers, even saying that he would do it again. He is still under investigation by the United Kingdom’s Insolvency Service for potential civil violations and could yet face legal action.

The six bosses who made the 2022 World Worst Boss shortlist run companies with business models that exploit workers through low wages and insecure jobs that deny people’s rights to form and join a union and collectively bargain. They have exploited the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis for their own profit, instead of taking responsibility for the workers that they rely upon. 

Transport bosses took out the first 4 places in the poll, with Hebblethwaite joined by Amazon Executive Chairman Jeff Bezos, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Emirates Airline and Group CEO Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. 

"CEO’s in the transport industry have been put on notice – if you fail to uphold workers’ rights and provide workers with decent jobs, safe working conditions, respect and dignity, the global union movement will be there to hold you to account. We will do this through national and international laws, using the power of worker representatives on pension funds to uphold human and labour rights principles and by organising transport workers to demand change.”

Outgoing ITUC General Secretary, Sharan Burrow, said: “The global pandemic showed us the greatest act of human solidarity the world has ever seen as workers kept the world moving. It also showed us the greatest acts of corporate greed as unscrupulous CEOs profited from the pandemic, tore up contracts with workers and exposed the deficits of corporate regulation. The ten richest men in the world doubled their fortunes during the pandemic, and the world’s ten largest corporations declared combined profits of some US$ 360 billion in 2021.

“Working people and their unions are demanding a new social contract between governments, workers and business with jobs, wages, rights, equality, inclusion, and social protection. Let’s clean up the bad bosses of the world and stop these corporate predators in their tracks. With new national and international legislation, we will hold companies to account. And unions will support the ILO adopting a new Convention to address standards and governance gaps in global supply chains,” said Burrow.

The full list of nominations for the 2022 Worst Boss in the World poll:

  •  Peter Hebblethwaite, CEO, P&O Ferries
  •  Jeff Bezos, Executive Chairman, Amazon
  •  Alan, Joyce, CEO, Qantas
  •  Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO, Emirates Airline and Group
  •  Howard Schultz, CEO, Starbucks
  •  Gina Rinehart, Executive Chairman, Hancock Prospecting

Previous winners include Jeff Bezos, Amazon (2014), and Michael O’Leary, Ryan Air (2018).

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