UPM strike extended for fifth time

The fifth strike extension will cause deep concern across the sector
The fifth strike extension will cause deep concern across the sector

Finnish Paperworkers’ Union Paperiliitto has extended its strike action at UPM once again, this time by a further 10 days.

In a statement released today (16 March), Paperiliitto said negotiators from the union and UPM are continuing to attempt to resolve the labour dispute in mediation.

The strike has lasted for 76 days so far and in recent weeks the two sides have been negotiating but, as no solution has yet been found, the two parties have met in conciliation.

Mediation for UPM’s pulp business will continue today and tomorrow, with Leo Suomaa named as the mediator.

Paperiliitto’s board said it has today decided to continue the strike at UPM’s premises to 16 April, “until the outcome of the negotiations has been reached”.

The ongoing strike applies to all work covered by the expired paper industry collective agreement, except for work that, according to a decision issued by the Helsinki District Court on 21 January, could endanger life, health, or the environment.

UPM confirmed the strike extension in a statement released this afternoon.

“Negotiations for the new collective labour agreements between UPM businesses and Paperworkers’ Union have continued intensively,” the company stated.

“Today the union announced a two weeks’ extension to the strike at most [of] UPM’s Finnish mills, until 16 April 2022, unless new collective labour agreements are reached before that.”

UPM said around 200 union members are currently working at the mills in tasks critical to society, such as power plants and water treatment facilities.

“In recent weeks the parties have negotiated primarily in one-on-one negotiations. Despite intense negotiations, agreements have not been reached. Therefore, UPM Pulp’s negotiations continue now in the official conciliation process,” said Jyrki Hollmén, UPM vice president of labour markets.

UPM again said it will service its customers from its mills outside of Finland “to the extent possible” and has not yet disclosed estimates of the economic impacts of the strikes.

Industry bodies across the European commercial printing and label printing industries have expressed deep concern about the damaging knock-on impact of the strike.

Last week it was reported that while some progress had been made, the negotiations were described as “not yet well advanced”. The war in Ukraine was also said to be impacting the situation.