UPM strike over – paper machines up and running again

The 112 day long strike at paper giant UPM paper and pulp mills has finally ended. Paper began to roll out of the mills again this week.

The parties signed five separate collective agreements for various UPM business sectors. All of these are valid from 22.4.2022 until 21.4.2026. The pay rise follows the general line, the Paper Workers’ Union say, without indicating the exact figures.

Thus far, the collective agreements made in Finland have brought about a 1.9 – 2.0 cent pay rise for this year. The pay rise at UPM has now been agreed for two years and the remaining two years of the agreement will be negotiated later.

One of the key goals of UPM was to make working hours longer without extra pay. This failed. UPM’s demand for 70 – 100 extra hours per year without pay has been watered down to 24 – 32 extra hours at the paper mills only – with pay. As for day time work, working hours remain unchanged.

The union also won out on their key goal to keep crucial terms of work unified in the new system without generally binding national collective agreements.

UPM can claim a victory of sorts by managing to split the former collective agreement into five separate deals. In the long run, they believe this will make agreements even more flexible.

Whether this was worth one of the longest strikes in Finnish contemporary history and a loss of at least 200 million Euro in profit, is another question. UPM leaders were looking for a revolution, but the result was more evolution – as is usual in collective bargaining.

What is certain, is that the reputation of company-specific agreements that employers have been advocating, has been hit particularly hard throughout the whole country.

According to the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, paper production fell in Finland from January to March by 63 per cent in comparison with the same time one year ago. Production of pulp dropped at the same time by 31 per cent.

Heikki Jokinen

Read more:

Industrial Union to support paper workers’ strike at UPM to the tune of 2.2 million euro (25.03.2022)

UPM frames paper mill strike as a force majeure (08.03.2022)

European printing industry appeals to UPM to settle the strike quickly (15.02.2022)

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