Since January of this year, UPM employees have been striking to bring about new collective labour agreements in association with the Paperworkers’ Union, calling for improvements to working conditions and salary.
Originally planned to end later that same month, the strike has since been extended six times – with the latest extension being announced on the 4th April.
The Paperworkers’ Union announced that the UPM employee strikes will continue until the 30th April, unless agreements between the union and the five UPM branches involved – UPM Pulp, UPM Biofuels, UPM Communication Papers, UPM Specialty Papers and UPM Raflatac – are reached before that time.
This statement echoes the sentiment of each of the previous strike extension announcements dating back to February. Similarly, at the beginning of the year, intense negotiations began between the Paperworkers’ Union and UPM Pulp, with negotiations allegedly scheduled with each of the UPM branches involved.
Two months down the line, it appears as though very little progress has been made, with several more extensions to the strike being implemented and no formal agreements consolidated between any of the UPM branches and the Paperworkers Union. However, since that time, the conciliator of negotiations between UPM Pulp and the Paperworkers’ Union has produced a settlement proposal, which the parties must review and come to a verdict on by the 14th of April.
Meanwhile, the remaining UPM businesses are still undergoing intense negotiations with the union.
If both the Paperworkers’ Union and UPM Pulp accept the new agreement, in theory it shouldn’t be long before proposals are drawn up for the remaining four UPM businesses and the strikes can cease.
However, considering the strung out nature of the strike so far and the resulting negotiations that have taken place this year, it’s likely that there is still a long way to go before the UPM paper mills return to being operational in Finland.
Earlier this year, after the UPM strike had already been extended twice, companies reliant on the Finnish UPM mills for paper had already warned their customers of weeks and months in potential delays – a concern that is only growing as the strike continues to be extended. Despite this, UPM is doing its best to supply customers with paper and pulp from its other mills throughout Europe, in spite of the temporary standstill of its paper mills in Finland.
Likewise, the UK’s leading label, till roll, paper and packaging provider Fortoak is taking every measure possible to minimise delays and keep prices down for its customers, in spite of the problems with supply caused by the inactive Finnish paper mills. Since it isn’t clear when agreements will be reached between all five of the relevant UPM businesses and the Paperworkers’ Union, paper-reliant businesses should prepare for delays and potential shortages, as many paper product providers are continuing to struggle as a result of the prolonged strike.