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Power companies say paper sector dispute threatens energy supply

Energy firms say a dispute between the Paperworkers’ Union and forest company UPM could leave some residents in the cold.

Metsäteollisuusyhtiö UPM:n logo pääkonttorissa Helsingissä.
Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva
Yle News

Several local communities are bracing for interruptions to district heating as forest products company UPM and the Paperworkers' Union have failed to solve disputes over pay and conditions.

Three energy companies are calling on the Paperworkers' Union, which represents workers in the paper industry, and forest products giant UPM to resolve their dispute to avoid disruptions to district heating.

The Paperworkers' Union is set to start a strike at UPM plants on 1 January, threatening the district heating supply in many places.

"Some cities are already winding down their biogas plants and have started their backup oil-burning facilities," the heads of Rauman Energia, Kouvola's KSS Energia and Lappeenranta Energia said in a joint statement.

The dispute hinges on a dispute over pay and working conditions at UPM.

The forest giant wants the flexibility to vary conditions of work for staff doing the same job in different units within the company, but unions are resisting that change.

The Paperworkers' Union has said it will exclude district heat operations from its strike action if UPM continues to apply the current collective agreement after the New Year. UPM, however, said it will start implementing its own working conditions that have not been negotiated with the Paperworkers' Union.

Traditionally Finnish labour talks have been sector-wide, with a collective agreement guaranteeing industrial peace between unions and companies. This time, employers' organisations have declined to negotiate a sector-wide deal, preferring to negotiate company-by-company.

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