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Häkämies: State Will Not Pressure Stora Enso to Stay

Jyri Häkämies, the Minister with responsibility for policy on state-owned enterprises, says he can’t promise that government will prevent paper products company Stora Enso from relocating to Sweden.

Jyri Häkämies Kuva: YLE

On Friday Jouko Ahonen, President of the Finnish Paper Workers Union called on the Minister to take action in the national interest. The paper unionist’s appeal came in the wake of widespread temporary layoffs in Finland.

On Friday morning Minister Häkämies met with representatives of various unions and professional organisations. In customary fashion, Häkämies emphasised that the responsibility of the state is to create a favourable environment for businesses to operate in and not to intervene in their day-to-day operations – such decision making remained the sole responsibility of business leaders.

“No government has ever made any decisions on production matters, regardless of its orientation; nor will it begin to do so,” declared the Minister.

“The Companies Act places that responsibility solely with the company’s board of directors,” he added.

Häkämies said it’s understandable that Sweden was an attractive option for Stora Enso because of cheaper raw timber and the weaker currency, which would make its products more affordable abroad.

“Personally I believe and I hope that Stoa Enso will hold its course through this difficult period like other Finnish forestry companies and that there will be a future for the forestry sector in Finland,” the Minister said.

Paper Workers’ Union President Jouko Ahonen charged that there were inconsistencies between government’s statements and its actions. He claimed that government had previously urged companies to use the downturn to train workers and to try and keep them on the payroll.

He said that he'd hoped for an expression of intent at the ministerial level, that Stora Enso would be warned in the national interest. Ahonen said that the company would have considered a strong startement from government in its decision making.

Ahonen said the union would work with its Swedish counterpart to try and influence the company’s decision.