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UPM strike ends as union, employer accept proposal from mediator

Workers will return to factories immediately following a strike that lasted for 112 days.

UPM:n lippu liehuu Pietarsaaren tehtaan edustalla.
Image: Juha Kemppainen / Yle
Yle News

A long-running industrial dispute between forestry firm UPM and the Paperworkers' Union has been resolved following the acceptance by both parties of a proposal by Leo Suomaa, a mediator from the National Labour Conciliator's Office.

"I made a proposal that both sides were a little dissatisfied with," Suomaa said at a press conference on Friday afternoon.

The four-year collective agreement will see wage increases agreed this year, and then reviewed again in two years time.

The strike at UPM began in January, with the company demanding that paper workers be split into five separate business units and a different collective agreement applied to each.

The union staunchly opposed that principle, rejecting a deal last week that would have seen new deals for four of the five units. Union leaders said that would have left half their members at UPM without a new agreement.

Leo Suomaa from the National Labour Conciliator's office made a proposal on Thursday covering all five business units, setting a deadline of Friday afternoon for the parties to accept or reject the proposal in its entirety.

The Paperworkers' Union received support from other unions in funding strike pay and with some dockworkers blocking UPM shipments during the dispute.

The union has estimated that the strike cost UPM some 20 million euros per week.

The dispute has contributed to shortages of newsprint in Finland, with newspapers suspending supplements and reducing the amount of content in printed newspapers.

British parliamentarians also raised the strike, as it has had an impact on the availability of labels used in food packaging, with possible implications for food supply chains.

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