UPM strike action has begun

UPM wants to negotiate business-specific agreements as soon as possible
UPM wants to negotiate business-specific agreements as soon as possible

The threatened strike action involving thousands of employees at UPM’s Finnish mills is now underway, with the printing industry braced for its likely impact on paper supplies.

Members of the Paperworkers’ Union, the Finnish Electrical Workers’ Union and Trade Union Pro began the strike at 6am on 1 January. It’s understood to involve some 3,000 workers.

The strike is set to run until 22 January.

The industrial action comes after a dispute over terms and collective bargaining that dates back to spring 2021. UPM wants to bring in business-specific collective bargaining in order to negotiate flexible ways of organising work, working hours and salaries.

According to the Paperworkers’ Union, on 28 December UPM filed an application for precautionary measures with the Helsinki District Court, with the aim of having the strike action prohibited or restricted. However, on 29 December the court dismissed the company's claim for interim measures.

The UPM businesses affected by the strikes are: UPM Pulp, UPM Biofuels, UPM Communication Papers, UPM Specialty Papers and UPM Raflatac. 

UPM Plywood and UPM Timber are not included, having signed business-specific collective agreements with the Industrial Union in December. 

UPM Energy is not affected.

Jyrki Hollmén, vice president of labour markets at UPM, said the group’s goal “remains the same”.

“We want to negotiate business-specific collective agreements with the Paperworkers’ Union as soon as possible. The only way forward is through negotiations,” he said. 

“UPM businesses differ significantly from each other in terms of products, production processes, markets and revenue models. Therefore, it is vital for their competitiveness to make business specific collective agreements.”

UPM said that negotiations had begun at UPM Biofuels, “but they were interrupted by the Paperworkers’ Union just before Christmas”.

Paperworkers’ Union chairman Petri Vanhala said it was  still ready to agree on strike limits immediately if they can be agreed on the basis of the previous collective agreement.

The strike will also affect services related to the mills, such as district heating schemes and water treatment.

The affected mills are:

  • UPM Jämsänkoski (graphic papers including uncoated magazine paper and specialty papers)
  • UPM Kymi (WFC and WFU graphic papers including Finesse and Fine)
  • UPM Kaukas (LWC graphic papers including Ultra and Star)
  • UPM Rauma (LWC magazine papers)
  • UPM Tervasaari (specialty release liner base papers)
  • UPM Raflatac Tampere (labels)

The UPM Kymi, Pietarsaari and Kaukas pulp mills are also included. 

UPM said that “to the extent possible” it would service its customers from its mills located outside of Finland.

As yet, the €8.58bn (£7.18bn) turnover group has not disclosed any estimates about the likely economic impacts of the strikes.