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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Wizz Air and the "Culture" of rotten apples

"Through the pages of newspapers all over Europe, details stand out relating to severely discriminatory behaviors towards workers"

The airline's corporate page reads that the Wizz Air project was conceived by "ssix people with a wide range of airline expertise and successful track records ..." in just three months. We also read that “After a decade of solid growth” today Wizz Air is listed on the stock exchange and employs more than 3000 people.

 The recognition received as the best low-cost airline in Europe for 2020 is also clearly advertised.

 It seems to be really an exceptional success.

 However, if you scroll through the pages of newspapers all over Europe, details stand out relating to severely discriminatory behaviors towards workers and news of final judgments for unlawful dismissals and repeated anti-union practices.

 But what kind of airline is Wizz Air for those who work there?

 On the company's website, the advertising is very attractive and makes you want to travel and meet these workers who are so satisfied with their working environment.

 “At WIZZ safety and security is our crew’s number one priority. Our cabin crew, pilots and ground staff put their heart into the work that they do, ensuring you have a safe and enjoyable journey, all while providing impeccable and personal service every step of the way. ... “

But if you go deeper and look into the sites dedicated to free employee comments, you run into very long posts that describe in no uncertain terms the dark side of this airline which is portrayed as a toxic company where fear, racism and backstabbing would be the result of the vulgar culture of top managers.

 In an interview recently released to "Aftenposten", the main Norwegian newspaper, the workers interviewed declared that Wizz Air has a culture of terror.

 And the same is also denounced by the major international and national trade union federations, taking into account that in Wizz Air the freedom of association is openly denied and no employment contract has yet been negotiated with the national trade union representatives.

 In Italy, already in December 2020, Wizz Air declared in a letter addressed to Uiltrasporti signed by the representative of the Italian office that "the Company’s policies do not provide a collective bargaining relationships for the regulation of its employment contracts . ", A statement that made the National Secretary of Uiltrasporti Ivan Viglietti nervous, being him notoriously allergic to conflicts in the interest of workers, as we can read in a statement to AVIONEWS where he had hoped for "a prompt change of pace in the management of the Hungarian company WizzAir, in order to start a mutually profitable path and avoid conflict scenarios, in the interest of workers and the mobility of the Country, which especially at this time need constructive recovery and development initiatives".

It seems clear that the heavy criticisms of the carrier do not derive from simple "wrong conclusions" of the employees as declared by the communications manager Andras Rado, but rather from real company declarations and conduct deemed illegal by the courts.

And the problem even deepens due to the indolence with which national institutions act to stem these behaviors and protect workers, both in Italy and in the rest of Europe.

In this already very controversial climate, a couple of days ago, in the editorial offices of all the main European newspapers, like a machete, the news of an alleged audio recording extracted from an internal meeting of the airline pilot’s management, presumably dated back to the month of April last year, in which, among other things, the criteria for the dismissal of about 1000 workers were decided, as a cost containment strategy to face the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions.

 Statements that if confirmed will thicken the legal file already borne by the airline which now, in addition to the issues more specifically related to the so-called trade union rights, could turn into a criminally relevant dispute, which would also compromise the company's ability to prove ability to maintain adequate safety standards.

 In fact, among the complaints against the carrier, a report for serious anomalies in terms of safety has been filed by the union FPU Romania to EASA, the European Aviation Safety Agency, which for Wizzair is directly responsible for the safety oversight and compliance and for the protection of flight crews, where discriminatory practices can directly affect the safety of flight operations. https://adobe.ly/3fyxUaG

 Wizzair's ride to conquer European air transport and our domestic market is therefore in the middle of a hail storm.

It is questionable now whether the recent decision to replace Darwin Triggs, the head of flight operations, who is alleged to have encouraged his team to target the so-called "bad apples” for dismissal, will suffice, or if other possible more striking implications will involve the carrier in the coming months.

 Surely it will be also important to observe what requests for clarification will be made in our country to protect the staff hired in the 5 new Wizz Air bases to protect crew and consumers who will decide to buy their flights departing from Italy from the carrier.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency
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