PM Marin meets forest industry leaders after mill closure

Last week the premier criticised the closure of a profitable paper mill in Jämsä, resulting in the loss of 450 jobs.

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation's Ilkka Härmälä and Timo Jaatinen. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Leaders of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation said they still have confidence in Prime Minister Sanna Marin's government, despite recent criticism the sector received from the premier.

Last week Marin questioned forest products firm UPM's decision to close a profitable paper mill at a time when, in her words, "we’re living through Finland’s worst postwar crisis".

Marin was referring to UPM's plans to close its 66-year-old Kaipola paper mill in Jämsä, central Finland, with the loss of up to 450 jobs. Last Friday, Marin met with UPM staff and factory workers as well as local officials.

On Wednesday, Marin met with the federation's chair, Ilkka Härmälä, and its CEO Timo Jaatinen, in a meeting that was scheduled before the mill's shutdown was announced.

After the meeting, Härmälä said there was no lack of confidence in the government, adding that solutions should be sought on which both the government and forest industry can agree.

Härmälä, who is also the CEO of forest products firm Metsä Group, commented on the prime minister's criticisms, saying that business decisions are obviously made by executives, and added that the sector should be prepared to listen to a wide range of opinions.

Meanwhile, Jaatinen said that the forest industry and the government have always been in close contact and that relationship would continue. Regarding the industry's business decisions, he said they were basically about competitiveness and how to improve it.

Story headline updated at 6.41pm on 2 September to reflect Marin's meeting with the federation's leaders.