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Strikes end in paper and tech industries

Workers in the paper industry return to work Monday, followed by white-collar workers in the tech industries on Tuesday.

Petri Vanhala ja Jyrki Hollmen kättelevät valtakunnan sovittelijan toimistolla.
Petri Vanhala of the Paper Workers' Union (left) shook hands with Jyrki Hollmén of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation at the national conciliator's office in Helsinki on 10 February. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The Paper Workers' Union and the Finnish Forest Industries Federation on Monday approved a compromise deal proposed by the state labour mediator.

Paper Workers' Union chair Petri Vanhala said that industrial action that has shuttered pulp and paper mills would end immediately on Monday.

"People on the night shift will return to work," Vanhala said.

He and Jyrki Hollmén, labour market director at the Forest Industries Federation, both described the agreement as a compromise.

Vanhala said that the deal includes wage increases in line with national trends and eliminates the so-called 'kiky hours', several days' worth of unpaid work added to most contracts as part of a government-driven competitiveness pact in 2016.

Hollmén of the employers' side noted that the removal of the kiky hours will be compensated for by other measures. These include shortening the annual Midsummer holiday shutdown of mills in June by 24 hours.

Meanwhile in the mechanical forest industry, mediation continued on Monday regarding strikes at plywood factories and sawmills. Those talks are to resume on Wednesday.

Tech industry white-collar workers also back to work

Earlier on Monday, the boards of the Trade Union Pro and the Technology Industries of Finland approved a collective agreement for white-collar workers in tech and some heavy industries. That ended a strike that began on Monday morning, with a return to normal work set for Tuesday.

Pro chair Jorma Malinen said that here too wage increases are similar to prevailing hikes across most sectors.

"The first year of the contract includes a general raise of 1.3 percent, with a 1.2 percent pay hike the second year," Malinen said. Workers at some companies or workplaces may also be eligible for an additional raise of 0.8 percent in 2021, he added.

And this new contract also does away with the kiky hours – at least in their previous form. The industry lobby said in a statement that they will be "replaced by a number of elements that increase working time and flexibility while improving competitiveness".

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