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Court rules that some workers must return to UPM plants

The Paperworkers’ Union strike is in its third week.

UPM headquarters in Helsinki. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Helsinki District Court has ruled that heat production and water treatment at UPM's plants must fall outside of the parameters of the paper unions’ strike.

Forest products company UPM applied for this precautionary measure and Helsinki District Court issued its decision on Friday, after hearing from both parties.

The court ruled that the Paperworkers' Union must terminate all strike action at all of UPM's plants that endangers the critical functioning of society, or risk being fined two million euros.

"This was an important verdict. The right to strike is widespread in Finland, but strikes must also be conducted responsibly and in the interests of society," said Executive Vice President of Stakeholder Relations, Pirkko Harrela, in a UPM press release.

The measure applies to UPM's and its subsidiaries' power and water treatment plants in Jämsänkoski, Lappeenranta, Kouvola, Rauma and Valkeakoski, as well as the water treatment plant in Pietarsaari.

The strike at UPM plants is in its third week, having begun on New Year’s Day. The Paperworkers' Union announced that the strike could continue until 19 February, as they extended the action for another two weeks on Thursday.

The union justifies the continuation of the strike on the grounds that its initiatives have not been met favourably by UPM. According to the union, the forest products giant has announced that negotiations will be initiated only if they are conducted on a business-by-business basis and on the company's terms.

UPM employees are on strike after the collective agreement covering the workers expired on 31 December. UPM and union representatives have so far been unable to negotiate a new deal.