Talks between unions at Alitalia and the consortium bidding to buy the bankrupt airline have been suspended.
The unions cited ”insurmountable difficulties” but both sides said the negotiations would restart later today (September 12).
But Italy”s employment minister Maurizio Sacconi said the disruption of the talks ”"makes us fear the worst.”
He added: ”It is difficult to make forecasts now."
The Italian government plans to break up the national carrier, selling the profitable parts to Compagnia Aerea Italiana, the consortium of 16 investors, and liquidating the rest.
The consortium has made agreement with the unions a condition of the deal.
Augusto Fantozzi, the commissioner appointed after Alitalia went into receivership last month, has also threatened to ground the carrier and terminate employee contracts if an agreement is not reached.
Mr Sacconi has confirmed that this will happen if no deal is done.
ABTN has reported extensively on the Alitalia negotiations. For related stories click here.