On the 1st of January, thousands of employees at UPM – the leading paper mill company in Finland – commenced a strike originally planned to run until the 22nd of the same month, in order to bring about negotiations for new terms for workers, as negotiated by the Paperworkers’ Union.
However, since that time, the strike has already been extended twice, with the latest announcement being that the strike could continue until the 12th of March.
Playing for time?
This is unless an agreement is reached between UPM and the workers’ unions before this date – a move which UPM Labour Markets Vice President Jyrki Hollmén described as “playing for time” as the Union invited only one of the UPM businesses to negotiate.
In contrast, VP Hollmén said that “all five negotiation tables need to be opened” in order to come to a set of collective, business-specific agreements that favour both UPM and its workers.
Already, in countries across the world, including in the UK, many paper and printing companies had begun cautioning clients of more than two months delays on paper and printing orders, before the latest extension was even announced.
So, we can only assume that even further delays are to be expected: something that will hit the countless industries that rely on paper hard.
Protecting our customers
At Fortoak, the UK’s leading supplier of paper and packaging solutions, everything possible is being done to ensure that these disruptions to UPM paper mills in Finland have the least possible effect on Fortoak’s customers, as they pull out all the stops to get printer paper orders to their clients on time, despite the hold-ups in Finland.
However, the dispute between UPM and the Finnish Paperworkers’ unions could be coming to a head soon, as it was confirmed that the first negotiations between the union and UPM would begin on Monday of this week – the 7th of February – with UPM Pulp.
Negotiations with the remaining UPM branches are allegedly scheduled for this week, with UPM CEO confirming via a tweet that there was “a shared vision” and that “five business-specific agreements” were in the works, as a result of UPM and Paperworks’ Union collaboration.
CEO Jussi Pesonen also confirmed that another conference will take place today, the 10th of February, and will continue for the forthcoming days until satisfactory agreements are reached for the unions and each of the five UPM branches involved.
While this is great news that’s sure to get the ball rolling once more for the paper and print industry, it’s clear that – regardless of how quickly UPM and the relevant unions come to an agreement – there will continue to be disruptions to paper and print supply for the first few months of 2022.
Until then, paper and packaging companies such as Fortoak are doing everything they can to relieve their customers of the inconvenience of delays, as they go above and beyond to get any paper, label and till roll orders to their customers as soon as possible.