War in Ukraine puts further pressure on UPM to resolve strike

UPM has stopped buying wood from Russia and has suspended its operations there
UPM has stopped buying wood from Russia and has suspended its operations there

UPM has continued to meet with union representatives on a daily basis this week, but despite some progress the union has described negotiations as “not yet well advanced”.

The long-running strike affecting UPM’s Finnish mills has now reached its 70th day, and is currently set to continue until 6 April. 

In an update, union Paperiliitto said: “The parties have met daily this week and agreed to hold talks next week as well. However, negotiations are not yet well advanced.”

The union said that UPM had backed down on some of some of its proposals that the union deems unacceptable, but “there are still too many left.”

“The commitment and desire of those on strike to defend their working conditions has been widely noticed,” it added. 

Earlier this week SAK, the central organisation of Finnish trade unions, said that it and its member unions would continue to support the strike action by Paperiliitto and Sähköliitto.

“Recently, representatives of UPM's trade unions from Finland and 10 other countries held a remote meeting, as the unions work closely together to ensure that UPM agrees working conditions on the same basis as other forest companies,” Paperiliitto stated. 

The war in Ukraine is also impacting the situation, and Paperiliitto said that additional pressure to resolve the situation was now also coming from outside the labour market, “as war is waged in Ukraine and human suffering is on the rise”.

“The sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia also have spill-over effects on Finnish industry. There is a shortage of wood raw material and natural gas used for energy, among other things. Due to the war started by Russia, Finnish forestry companies are pushing down their operations in Russia and UPM has announced that it will stop supplying Russia.”

UPM had not made any fresh comment on the strike situation at the time of writing.