Transport union supports striking UPM workers

Master reels at UPM Kymi
Master reels at UPM Kymi

The Finnish Transport Workers’ Union AKT has commenced a blockade against UPM to support the strikes of the Finnish Paperworkers’ Union and the Finnish Electrical Workers’ Union.

The action began at 6am EET today (4am GMT, 24 January) and AKT’s support measures will be carried out as a blockade in Finnish ports. During the blockade, the stevedores will not handle UPM’s paper and pulp.

“AKT’s actions do not advance functioning labour markets. AKT is not even a party in the negotiations, which we aim to start with the Paperworkers’ Union,” said Jyrki Hollmén, vice president of labour markets at UPM.

On Thursday (20 January) the Paperworkers’ Union extended their industrial action at UPM by another two weeks, to 19 February, unless new agreements are reached beforehand.

The strike at the UPM Pulp, UPM Biofuels, UPM Communication Papers, UPM Specialty Papers, and UPM Raflatac units in Finland started on 1 January and had already been extended before on 5 January.

“We hope to get into negotiations with the Paperworkers’ Union soon, so that both parties can present their goals and seek solutions acceptable to all. Members of the Paperworkers’ Union certainly have the right to strike but now it only postpones the start of negotiations. The AKT blockade doesn’t make the situation any better,” said Hollmén.

He added UPM’s aim is to make business-specific agreements, as the company’s businesses are so different to each other.

“What we need now are agreements that will enable each business to succeed well into the future. This will benefit all parties.”

At this point, UPM has not disclosed estimates of the economic impacts of the strikes or the blockade. The company’s share price had reached a 52-week-high of €35.68 (£29.91) on Thursday but has dropped since and stood at €33.92 at the time of writing.