Helsinki (30.01.1998 - Juhani Artto) The Labour Court has ordered the Paperworkers Union and 53 of its 73 local branches to pay heavy fines for strikes which took place last September. The fines amount to 633,000 Finnish marks (1 FIM = 0,19 USD).

The paperworkers called a series of strikes in support of 54 maintenance workers at the tissue paper mill of Nokia Paper Oy, which is owned by the U.S.-based multinational James Fort. (See our story "Subcontracting - a hot issue" published 10.10.1997). The workers insisted on working under the collective agreement applicable to the paper industry, instead of that of the metalworking sector to which, as a result of outsourcing, their employer ABB Service belongs.

The strikes forced the employers initially to accede to the workers' demands on an interim basis. This was later made permanent in December, when renegotiated as part of a comprehensive incomes policy agreement. (See our story "New two-year collective agreement for almost all employees" published 19.12.1997)

In spite of the heavy fines, the Paperworkers Union and its local branches emerged as clear winners in the dispute. A defeat in the conflict at Nokia Paper would have cleared the way for accelerated outsourcing in all industries, irrespective of the views of organised labour.