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Electrolux too 'important' to Italy to close production

Zanonato says Swedish company must keep its Italian plants

10 February, 14:36
Electrolux too 'important' to Italy to close production (ANSA) - Rome, February 10 - Electrolux is too important to Italy to be allowed to close its plants and move to Poland, Industry Minister Flavio Zanonato said Monday.

"A company so important must not close even one of its centres of production in Italy," Zanonato told the Lower House.

The government will make every effort to convince the Swedish-based electrical appliance manufacturer to remain in Italy and not "transfer to other countries such as Poland," said the minister.

The company has said it is seeking ways to improve competitiveness in Italy, and last week suggested it needed "help" from the Italian government.

The chief executive of Electrolux's Italian division, Ernesto Ferrario, told a hearing before the Senate industry committee last week that the company needs "help reducing the cost of labour in Italy".

"We don't want to arrive at the cost of labor in Poland or Romania, (but we must do something about) this constant hike" in wage costs.

The CEO said his company expected a response from the Italian government by April in order for it to make long-term investments in the country.

"If we don't get any information, we can't make a five-year industrial plan. It will have to be for one year," he said, specifying they would announce a new plan the following year if such is the case.

He underlined however that the Swedish company "wants to be sure about the competitive base".

The company's initial plan to slash Italian wages towards standards more common in Poland outraged labor unions and sparked government meetings with company managers and owners.

As a result, the company said late last week that it would look for other ways to improve competitiveness in Italy through new business plans and strategies.

Premier Enrico Letta has said the Italian government must cut labor costs if it wants to keep major manufactures from fleeing.