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Zanonato vows to keep Electrolux production in Italy

Industry minister says will do so without State aid

29 January, 15:25
Zanonato vows to keep Electrolux production in Italy (ANSA) - Rome, January 29 - Italy's industry minister on Wednesday vowed to keep manufacturing work by the troubled Italian branch of the multinational appliance-maker Electrolux entirely in Italy - and to do it without State aid. "I personally will make an effort to make it so that all Electrolux production remains in Italy and we will do it without State aid," Flavio Zanonato told Agora' on RAI 3 television ahead of talks with the company and unions on Wednesday.

The government on Tuesday summoned Electrolux managers for emergency talks after the electrical-appliance multinational announced a shock wage-cut plan it said was necessary to keep its Italian plants running.

Earlier this week, the governor of the autonomous region Friuli-Venezia Giulia, where Electrolux Italy is based, called for the minister's resignation over allegations of his poor handling of the growing Electrolux crisis. Debora Serracchiani's harsh criticism was embraced by the CISL-FVG unions and the Senate whip for the regionalist Northern League party, Massimo Bitonci.

Zanonato responded to the political blows saying he would step down if Premier Enrico Letta asked him to.

"I will resign if the premier asks me to. I certainly don't consider myself a minister for life, and I don't like manipulation (through) controversy," Zanonato said. Trade union representatives and the governors of the regions that host Electrolux plants (Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna) were also expected to attend Wednesday's meeting at the industry ministry.

Electrolux said Tuesday that it was proposing cutting wages in Italy by three euros an hour, which it said was an 8% cut and would amount to a reduction of less than 130 euros a month in workers' net salaries.

The company said it had also proposed freezing salary increases due to seniority and other rises linked to the sector's national collective contract for three years in order to "cool the inflation of labour costs, which is responsible for the continuing growth in the competitive gap with the countries of Eastern Europe".

Electrolux added that it was willing to consider "other forms of reducing labour costs with lower or, if possible, no consequences on salaries".