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Union extends UPM strike until mid-May

Paperworkers' Union members will continue the industrial action for a further two weeks after rejecting the most recent settlement proposal.

Workers have been on strike since 1 January. Image: Kare Lehtonen / Yle
Yle News

The Paperworkers' Union announced on Thursday that it will extend the ongoing strike at UPM paper mills until 14 May, as no agreement on pay and conditions has been reached following the latest round of talks.

A suggested settlement covering four divisions of UPM’s business — pulp, special papers, stickers and biofuels — was on the table but no proposal was offered for the fifth division, print paper. The strike in this division has led to national newsprint shortages.

The union's board unanimously rejected the proposal on the basis that it would have only covered half of their member employees. In a briefing, the union expressed its disappointment that it needed to reject the whole settlement because of the print paper division.

UPM had accepted the full settlement and their labour market director Jyrki Hollmén said the union's decision was a complete surprise.

Hollmén told Yle that the union themselves had accepted to move forward with a settlement covering the four divisions, as the negotiations regarding the print paper division were suspended last Friday.

"UPM cornered themselves with their uncompromising ambitions and didn't look to back off even though the strike has been going on for 104 days, the revenue from the year has stayed at zero and customers are suffering from shortages of material," Paperworkers' Union chair Petri Vanhala said.

UPM mill workers have been on strike since their collective agreement expired at the end of 2021. The union and UPM have failed to reach a settlement determining a new agreement for the workers in the paper industry, in which UPM is one of the largest manufacturers.

In addition to the effect on newsprint shortages, the action has raised questions (siirryt toiseen palveluun) about the strike's effect on food supply, as UPM produces a large proportion of adhesive labels used in food manufacturing around the world.

The strike action has affected about 2,000 workers who are members of the Paperworkers' Union at 12 UPM mills.

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