UPM strike: despair as union rejects proposals

Printers and print buyers are in despair after the Finnish Paperworkers' Union rejected the four UPM strike settlement proposals on the table – apparently due to the impasse at Communication Papers where talks had stalled. The strike has been extended yet again as a result.

20 Apr 2022 | By PrintWeek Team

On 14 April, UPM announced that the proposals for the UPM Pulp, Specialty Papers, Raflatac and Biofuels businesses put forward by mediator Leo Suomaa had been rejected.

Jyrki Hollmén, VP for labour markets at UPM said: “We are deeply disappointed in the decision of the union and in the continuation of the strike that has already lasted 3.5 months. UPM has been negotiating with an earnest mind and made several compromises. We also accepted the conciliation proposals. Modernising the agreement stemming from the 1940s would be important both for the employees and the company.”

The strike began on 1 January and has now been extended for the seventh time, to 14 May.

Hollmén added: “It is very disappointing that after intensive negotiations, no business was able to reach a conclusion. Petri Vanhala, chairman of the Paperworkers’ Union, confirmed in the mediation of all businesses that each business can be agreed separately. The mediation found settlement proposals for four businesses that took the needs and wishes of both parties into account. We were confident that both parties undertook to accept these settlement proposals and industrial peace would resume. Now that the union has turned down the drafted proposals, our businesses will make a fresh start.”

The board of directors of Paperworkers’ Union Paperiliitto stated that it could not accept the settlement proposals because they only covered half of UPM’s paper union employees in Finland.

It said the decision to reject was unanimous, and said the exclusion of Communication Papers meant it had to turn down the four conciliation proposals. 

Chief shop stewards at the mills had sent an open letter to UPM executives on 13 April.

“The chief shop stewards are outraged that the petition was not answered in any way. Had a solution been found to the dispute, no other conciliation proposals would have had to be rejected,” the union stated.

The strike is causing havoc with label material supply availability across Europe.

The four Finnish mills, which have a combined production capacity of more than 2.3-m tonnes per annum, are:

UPM Kymi (705,000tpa WFC and WFU graphic papers including Finesse and Fine)

UPM Rauma (665,000tpa LWC magazine papers)

UPM Jämsänkoski (630,000tpa of graphic papers including uncoated magazine paper and specialty papers)

UPM Kaukas (305,000tpa of LWC graphic papers including Ultra and Star)

(Courtesy: PrintWeek.com)