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Pension Fund Divests Stake in Wizz Air in ‘Human Rights’ Dispute Over How Employees Are Treated

Pension Fund Divests Stake in Wizz Air in ‘Human Rights’ Dispute Over How Employees Are Treated

A Danish pension fund says it will ditch its investment in Europe’s Wizz Air over alleged breaches of “human and labor rights”. The Hungarian low-cost carrier has come in for fierce criticism over its refusal to acknowledge the rights of workers to form or join a labour union. Employees who have attempted to join a union have been quickly dismissed.

“Patience ran out,” AkademikerPension said in a statement on Monday. The fund had written to Wizz Air in December along with 13 other investors calling on the rapidly growing airline to make immediate changes to the way it treated employees.

“After dialogue with the company’s management, we have in no way been reassured that it will initiate the changes we have requested,” explained Jens Munch Holst, director of AkademikerPension. “On the contrary. Therefore, we see no other way than to exclude the company”.

Holst noted that Wizz Air had “exhibited discriminatory behaviour and fired employees because of their union affiliation.”

József Varadi, Wizz Air’s chief executive has publicly acknowledged that the airline is against unions, saying they could “kill the business”.

But the European Transport Workers Federation believes Wizz Air might be struggling to recruit workers in certain markets because the terms and conditions it is offering are so poor. Wizz has allegedly struggled to fill positions in Italy where workers are accustomed to joining a union and working under a collective labour agreement.

Wizz also attempted to crack the market in Norway by sending lower-paid Polish cabin crew rather than hiring local crew who would have earned more.

In a statement, Wizz Air said it took “engagement with its employees very seriously and we are confident that our structures and processes that have been in place to support open and transparent engagement are working extremely well, including our People Council, which provides a forum for employees to discuss important issues.”

AkademikerPension has only excluded 12 other companies from its investment portfolio, the most well known is the U.S. grocery store chain Walmart.

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