UPM strike extended again

UPM: focus on mutually beneficial outcomes with new labour agreements
UPM: focus on mutually beneficial outcomes with new labour agreements

Strike action at UPM will run for an unprecedented four months, after the Paperworkers’ Union announced a further extension until 30 April.

The latest two-week extension is the sixth time the strike has been extended. The action started on 1 January. 

The strike is affecting UPM’s Finnish pulp and paper mills. 

In a statement issued today (31 March), UPM stated: “Yet another extension of two weeks to the strike comes at a moment when negotiations between the union and UPM businesses continue intensively, and the conciliator has submitted a settlement proposal in the negotiations between UPM Pulp and the union.”

The parties must state their position on the Pulp proposal by 14 April.

Jyrki Hollmén, vice president, of labour markets at UPM commented: "Drafting of business specific collective agreements, led by the conciliator, has continued intensively during the past weeks. There is already a settlement proposal for UPM Pulp. Now it is important to focus on solving the open questions in the remaining UPM businesses.”

The union believes the strike is costing UPM around €20m (£16.9m) a week. UPM has still not commented officially on the likely financial impact to the group. 

The strike involves UPM Pulp, UPM Biofuels, UPM Communication Papers, UPM Specialty Papers and UPM Raflatac units in Finland.

It is causing serious issues with the availability of graphic and label papers across Europe. 

The union commented: “The purpose of the negotiations and mediation is for the Paper Association and UPM to agree on new company-specific terms and conditions after the expired paper industry agreement. 

“The strike has been protracted because the goals of the parties have not been sufficiently converged in the mutual negotiations and during the conciliation. 

“There is two weeks left until April 14 to respond to the conciliation proposal received by UPM Pulp, the pulp business. The goal of the Paper Association is to complete the solutions for the various businesses within the reflection period.”

At its AGM held earlier this week, UPM cited the success of the agreements it reached at the end of last year at its UPM Plywood and UPM Timber divisions. 

“In the new labour market situation, we aim to negotiate business-specific agreements with focus on mutually beneficial outcomes that will enable each business and their employees to prosper well into the future,” the group said, citing the flexible working practices that had been agreed at Plywood and Timber. 

Around 200 union members continue to work at the pulp and paper sites on tasks deemed critical to society, such as power plants and water treatment facilities.

Global trade unions have called on UPM’s major shareholders to put pressure on the €9.8bn group to resolve the situation.