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UPM paper strike ends: 1900 workers return to work

Papermaking giant UPM and the Paperworkers' Union have agreed on a deal to end the 110-day strike at five UPM mills in Finland, which caused paper shortages across Europe. Employees will return to work immediately and UPM says it will restart customer deliveries as soon as possible.

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UPM and the union both agreed to a settlement proposal put forward by Finland's national mediator.

“The essential result is that the extensive impairments required by the employer, such as the increase in working time without compensation, i.e., the number of hours worked, did not materialise,” said the Finnish Paperworkers’ Union

The strike covered UPM Pulp, UPM Communication Papers, UPM Specialty Papers, UPM Raflatac and UPM Biofuels mills in Finland.

UPM, the world’s biggest maker of graphic paper, last year supplied 21% of European graphic paper capacity and 7% of global volumes. UPM paper products are widely used in Australia and New Zealand, with UPM Raflatac a leading supplier of pressure sensitive label stock. 

Riitta Savonlahti upm
      "Five business-specific
 collective 
labour agreements":
      Riitta Savonlahti, UPM

“We are very pleased that the parties have approved all settlement proposals and that the Paperworkers’ Union’s long strike ends,” says Riitta Savonlahti, executive vice president, Human Resources, UPM. “UPM and the union have made history together by agreeing on five business-specific collective labour agreements, which replace the paper industry´s old agreement stemming from the 1940’s.”

The contract period of the new agreements is four years. “Pay increases are in line with the current industry norm,” UPM said. “A significant change in all business-specific agreements is the substitution of periodical pay with hourly pay. All businesses also agreed on added flexibility to shift arrangements and the use of working time.

Business-specific solutions

“UPM Pulp agreed on switching to uninterrupted 365-day running of the pulp mills and more flexible use of workforce during the long maintenance shutdowns.
UPM Communication Papers, our graphic paper business, agreed on additional hours and flexible use of working time, which are essential for smooth operation.
UPM Specialty Papers agreed on terms that improve competitiveness and reliability of deliveries. The new collective labour agreement widens the scope of local bargaining also at mill level and improves operational profitability during public holidays.
UPM Raflatac’s collective labour agreement makes it possible to build more flexible working hour arrangements and resourcing of Tampere factory. Thus, the new agreement paves the way for an increase in capacity utilization, that improves production efficiency and opens opportunities for employment.
UPM Biofuels, i.e., the Lappeenranta biorefinery, agreed on flexible use of shifts and training in shift work. Pay structure supports personal development and good performance better than before.” 

The Paperworkers Union’s strike at most UPM mills in Finland began on 1 January 2022 and lasted almost four months. Originally, approximately 2,100 members of the union went on strike, but about 200 of them were ordered to uphold tasks critical to society, such as heat generation and water management, by a court order.