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Postal union calls off strike; CEO predicts end to letter and newspaper deliveries

The postal workers' union has suspended its strike after assurances from the minister in charge of state-owned firms.

postilaatikoita maaseudulla
The days of letter deliveries may be numbered, says Posti's chief executive. Image: Martin Stevens / AOP

The Finnish Post and Logistics Union (PAU) decided to suspend its strike early on Wednesday. The decision came after it received word from Minister of Ownership Steering Sirpa Paatero that a controversial contract plan would be put on ice. Posti had planned to shift some 700 employees under the scope of a new collective bargaining agreement, a move the union said would have lead to sharp cuts in their wages.

"PAU has received further clarification regarding the timeout message from the Minister of Ownership Steering in connection with the collective labour agreement dispute, which allows for the suspension of industrial action for the time being," PAU chair Heidi Nieminen said in a statement.

The union demands that Posti transfer Parcel and E-Commerce sorting staff back under the aegis of the main company Posti Oy so that collective labour agreement negotiations can re-start "with a clean slate".

"Employees are to return to work for their next shifts, if possible," Nieminen added.

Nieminen expects sympathy job action by other unions to end as well. However she tells Yle that the union is prepared to launch more industrial action if the contract dispute is not resolved.

Posti intended to move the workers under other unions' collective agreements, which PAU estimated would have led to some employees' wages falling by as much as half as well as weaker contract terms.

The strike, which began on Sunday evening, was to have gone on until midnight Wednesday.

Posti CEO: Newspaper deliveries could end by 2025

Meanwhile Posti CEO Heikki Malinen, who has been under fire for accepting hefty salary raises while employees are seeing their pay cut, suggests that home delivery of newspapers and magazines could end as early as 2025, and that the future of letter deliveries is also in doubt.

Malinen told the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus that he expects delivery of printed periodicals to continue until at least 2025 or 2030, but that the future of hand-delivered letters looks increasingly challenging over the next few years.

MT estimates that a decline in letter and newspaper deliveries has put a 70-million-euro dent in Posti's turnover.

Posti later issued a statement saying that MT had "misunderstood" what Malinen said, and that the firm does not plan to halt delivery of printed papers in 2025. It said that it will continue to deliver newspapers as long as customers have a need for the service. It also notes that the volume of addressed letters delivered in the first half of this year was down by 13 percent compared to a year earlier.

Company needs "more flexibility"

Malinen said that the planned changes in collective agreements are intended to give the state-owned company more flexibility, as the business increasingly shifts toward package deliveries and logistics.

As most packages are delivered toward the end of each week, the firm already in effect only delivers letters only four days a week, the paper notes.

Although the package delivery business is growing, so is the competition. Malinen notes that Posti now competes with 16 domestic delivery firms as well as many more from abroad.

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