Agreement reached over UPM strike

New agreement valid for four years
New agreement valid for four years

The Finnish Paperworkers' Union has agreed a settlement proposal to end the devastating long-running strike action at UPM.

Today (Friday 22 April) the Paper Association announced to mediator Leo Suomaa that it would unanimously approve the settlement proposals for all five of UPM's business operations as new company-specific collective agreements.

UPM's businesses also accepted the settlement, the union said.

The new agreements are valid for four years from today to April 21, 2026. 

The union said that wage increases "follow the general line in the industry with the 2 + 2 years model, ie wage increases will be renegotiated after two years".

The union stated: "The main goal of the Paper Association in the negotiations was to keep the working conditions in the industry consistent in the current model of company-specific agreements. 

"With UPM, this goal was the most difficult to achieve. The essential result is that the extensive impairments required by the employer, such as the increase in working time without compensation, ie the number of hours worked, did not materialise."

The strike action at UPM's Finnish pulp and paper mills began on 1 January and has run for more than 110 days. 

Fresh proposals to resolve the strike were submitted yesterday

UPM said the business-specific agreements to increase productivity were as follows:

UPM Pulp agreed on switching to uninterrupted 365-day running of the pulp mills and more flexible use of workforce during the long maintenance shutdowns. Restrictions on the use of fixed-term employees were removed. Going forward, wage formulation supports learning and competence, and the development of workplace practices.

UPM Communication Papers, its graphic paper business, agreed on additional hours and flexible use of working time, which are essential for smooth operation. Depending on the working time format, working hours will increase by 24-32 hours per year, except for day work, where the working hours remain unchanged. With the changeover to hourly pay, the extra hours increase earnings accordingly. On weekly level, the increase of working hours is about half an hour per week. In addition, an encouraging pay system was agreed, which improves particularly the earnings of maintenance and day work. The agreement includes a wage payment guarantee for the first two years of the contract period.

UPM Specialty Papers agreed on terms that improve competitiveness and reliability of deliveries. The new collective labour agreement widens the scope of local bargaining also at mill level and improves operational profitability during public holidays. The formulation of pay rewards good performance better than previously.

UPM Raflatac’s collective labour agreement makes it possible to build more flexible working hour arrangements and resourcing of Tampere factory. Thus, the new agreement paves the way for an increase in capacity utilisation, that improves production efficiency and opens opportunities for employment.

UPM Biofuels the Lappeenranta biorefinery agreed on flexible use of shifts and training in shift work. Pay structure supports personal development and good performance better than before. In addition, the parties agreed on arrangements, which enable the refinery to be kept in production-ready state, instead of complete ramp-down, also under possible work stoppages.

Riitta Savonlahti, executive VP for Human Resources at UPM, said: “In Finland, we have excellent mills and highly skilled employees. It is good that we get to start the work at mills again. Now it’s time to move on together."

At the time of writing further information about the likely schedule for resumption of production was not available.