Union extends UPM strike

UPM: union is using tasks critical to society as a Trojan horse
UPM: union is using tasks critical to society as a Trojan horse

Union workers have ratcheted up their industrial action at UPM by extending it – less than a week after a large-scale strike began.

This afternoon (5 January), UPM announced that the Finnish Paperworkers’ Union had issued a new strike announcement, stating that it would extend the industrial action that began on 1 January by two weeks, taking the strike through to 5 February – unless new agreements are reached before that date.

UPM said that just before the strike started it had received an email proposal from the union for a new collective labour agreement, “without any prior negotiation contact”.

“The proposal was practically the same old collective agreement, which expired at the end of 2021. UPM, however, aims to have genuine interactive negotiations on the new terms of labour,” the group stated.

The union said it had extended the action because UPM rejected its proposal and has not issued a counter-proposal, despite the union requesting one. 

UPM accused the union of leveraging critical tasks such as water treatment, which have not been excluded from the strike, as a “Trojan horse”.

“The exceptional procedure indicates that Paperworkers’ Union uses the tasks critical to society as a Trojan horse, trying to bind UPM to the expired agreement by every means possible” stated Jyrki Hollmén, vice president of labour markets at UPM.

““If the members of the Paperworkers’ Union want to continue the strike, they naturally have every right to do so. UPM’s goal continues to be to start business specific negotiations with the union as soon as possible. Negotiations are the only way forward. It is important that the negotiations for new agreements begin with a forward-looking mindset and determination to find the best solution for each business and its personnel,” he said.

UPM is offering additional fixed-term compensation to those employees who come to work at mills and do extra work because of the strike. It’s not clear how many workers have taken up the offer.

“UPM’s aim is to minimise the effects of the strikes to outside parties,” the group added.

So far the strike action has not had a major impact on UPM’s share price, which was at a four-month high at the time of writing.