BPIF joins calls to urge swift end to paper shortage

Richard Stuart-Turner
Monday, February 14, 2022

The BPIF has joined forces with Intergraf and Finat to urge the end of strike action at UPM's Finnish paper mills.

Intergraf said printers’ stocks will not last until the strike has been settled
Intergraf said printers’ stocks will not last until the strike has been settled

The European print trade body Intergraf, which the BPIF is a member of, has called for an end to the ongoing strikes at UPM in Finland, which began at the start of the year and are due to continue until at least 12 March following another recent extension.

The UPM strikes have greatly aggravated the current lack of paper on European markets and are threatening the supply of printed products.

Intergraf said printers’ stocks will not last until the strike has been settled and warned that they will not be able to fulfil orders. It has estimated that, based on member associations feedback, from mid-February, there will be a 40% shortage in the paper needed by European printers.

Meanwhile Finat, the European association for the self-adhesive label and narrow web packaging industry, has warned that if strikes continue and label production is not put back on track, there could be serious ramifications for the supply of food, beverages, and pharmaceuticals.

As well as calling on UPM directly to settle the strike, Intergraf has written to the European Commission to highlight the difficult supply situation, as well as the rise in costs of raw materials and energy.

Additionally, BPIF Labels has joined forces with Finat and eight other national labels associations, including counterparts in Germany, Italy, and Denmark. Together these nine associations represent over 1,000 label companies, and in volume terms their joint membership covers over 75% of the total market volume in Europe.

The coalition has written directly to Jussi Pesonen, CEO of UPM, and Petri Vanhala, president of Finnish Paperworkers’ Union Paperiliitto, in addition to making a statement. In their letter, Finat called on the leaders to “do everything possible to end the strike at the UPM mills as soon as possible”.

BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold said: “A shortage of paper is a grave threat to our supply chains and ultimately to the products available for customers. Without labels, packaged goods cannot come to market and consumers will suffer the loss of many everyday items – foods, drinks, and medicines to name a few key areas.

“As part of Intergraf we strongly urge a resolution to the UPM strike, and we support the raising of the wider issues with the Commission. This instance shows that although we are no longer part of the EU, our domestic industry is greatly affected by Europe, and our work with Intergraf is as important as ever.

“We will also be raising this matter with the UK government in the coming days to ensure that they are aware of, and understand the seriousness, of the situation and its impact on consumers.”

Intergraf president Ulrich Stetter added: “We have real bottlenecks in our paper supplies. We can see that this shortage will increase in the upcoming months. This jeopardises the rebound of our industry and our suppliers after the pandemic, and both will suffer irretrievable damage.”

Separately, Paperiliitto said that its negotiation efforts with UPM had “failed” and a national mediator was involved as of today (14 February) in an attempt to broker a solution between the two parties. 

The strike at UPM’s Finnish mill has so far lasted 42 days.

“Paper Association's negotiation efforts with UPM's businesses have failed. The parties have not progressed in the negotiations, so the National Mediator has invited the Paper Association and UPM to mediate on Monday, February 14th,” the union stated. 

UPM had not issued any further statement at the time of writing. 

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