Danish pension fund bans Wizz Air for violation of labor rights

The Danish pension fund AkademikerPension has excluded the Hungarian airline Wizz Air from its investment universe, due to the poor treatment of the company’s employees.

The institutional investor said investigations revealed that company management had repeatedly refused to recognize employees’ right to freedom of association and their right to bargain collectively in Romania, Ukraine, Norway and in Italy.

The pension fund said the examples of the company’s opposition to unions and collective agreements are numerous. He cited the fact that in 2020 the company’s CEO, József Varadi, said the company was against them because unions “kill the company”.

According to AkademikerPension, several courts have also ruled that the company engaged in discriminatory behavior and fired employees because of their union membership.

The exclusion means that AkademikerPension sold shares in the company worth DKK 22 million (2.95 million euros).

Jens Munch Holst, director of the pension fund, said management’s behavior conflicts with human and labor rights under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

“The risk of being linked to a clear and persistent violation of our responsible investment policy is simply too high if we remain invested,” he added.

Prior to the exclusion, AkademikerPension, together with Ardevora Asset Management, contacted company management and demanded immediate changes in its treatment of employees.

Wizz Air agreed to a meeting following pressure from the media but informed the pension fund that it had no plans to change its behaviour.

Munch Holst said that while exclusion is the latest tool in a pension fund’s arsenal, it won’t be able to pressure companies to change course if the team isn’t ready to. use it. This ultimately led to the airline’s exclusion from its investment universe.

Dolores W. Simon