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State mediator offers compromise bid to resolve long-running UPM strike

The strike, which has dragged on since January, could end before the weekend.

UPM:n lippu liehuu Pietarsaaren tehtaan edustalla.
The dispute between forest products giant UPM and the Paperworkers' Union could be resolved on Friday. Image: Juha Kemppainen / Yle
Yle News

Leo Suomaa, a mediator from the National Conciliator's Office, has offered a settlement proposal to resolve the collective bargaining dispute between UPM and the Paperworkers' Union. The two sides must respond to the bid by Friday afternoon.

Both sides must either approve or reject the five-contract proposal in its entirety. The walkout is now in its fourth month.

Last Thursday, the Paperworkers' Union board rejected settlement proposals for four of UPM's business areas in Finland: pulp, specialty papers, labels and biofuels. At that point, there was no conciliation proposal for the printing papers division, which the company refers to as Communication Papers.

The union leadership decided that the proposal fell short as it only covered half of paper union employees at UPM. The union indicated that it would not have rejected the other proposals if there had also been one covering the printing papers division.

At the same time, the union's board extended its strike for two weeks, until 14 May, unless a deal was reached by then. The strike at UPM mills has dragged on since the beginning of the year.

The settlement proposal issued on Thursday applies to all five business groups, including printing papers.

”I hope that the conciliation proposals now given will lead to agreements and we get to start the mills. Prolonging the strike further would not be in anyone's interest,” said Riitta Savonlahti, UPM Executive Vice President, Human Resources, in a statement.

The two sides must respond with a clear thumbs up or down for the whole settlement package by 4 pm on Friday.

UPM, one of the world's largest forest industry companies, has some 17,000 employees in Europe, China and Uruguay.

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