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MILAN, April 26 (Reuters) - Wizz Air has rejected calls from unions in Italy to agree a labour contract with them as the budget airline presses ahead with a rapid expansion in the country.
In a letter to the labour ministry, reported by the Avionews website and seen by Reuters, the Hungarian airline said it was determined to operate in Italy without engaging with unions.
Lengthy negotiations between Rome and the European Commission on a plan to revive cash-strapped carrier Alitalia have left gaps in the Italian market that low cost competitors are rushing to fill.
Wizz Air, which started deploying crews and aircraft in Italy in July 2020, plans to open its fourth base in the country in June under a deal with Palermo airport in Sicily.
“Unions want Wizz Air to introduce a collective contract for its workers in the country to avoid risks of inequalities among its employees versus other carriers in the country,” a union source told Reuters.
Another union source said a meeting organised by Italy’s labour ministry to mediate between unions and Wizz Air managers on April 15 ended without progress.
Wizz Air was not immediately available to comment.
“The company wants to be aligned in Italy with the general rule adopted in the other European countries to not adopt the methods of collective bargaining with trade unions for the management of its employment contracts, except in cases where Italian law provides for specific mandatory information and consultation with unions,” the airline said in its letter.
Wizz Air added it had “never expressed nor demonstrated any anti-union conduct towards its own employees, local authorities or unions themselves” in Italy or abroad.
The airline recently replaced its flight operations chief following an internal probe into the company’s management of 1,000 redundancies. (Reporting by Francesca Landini in Milan, Laurence Frost in Paris. Editing by Mark Potter )