Helsinki (09.03.1998 - Juhani Artto) 2,400 paperworkers at Fletcher Challenge in British Columbia, Canada, have been on strike since mid-July 1997. Two unions are involved in the dispute: the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union (CEP) and the Pulp, Paper and Woodworkers Union of Canada (PPWU).

Phil Davies, editor of the PPWU local newsletter, has sent a message to Trade Union News from Finland asking for details of the collective agreement of the Finnish paper workers. He wants to compare the demands of Fletcher Challenge in British Columbia with the collective agreement in the Finnish forest industry.

"The company demands that all workers do whatever job they are assigned to, regardless of job description, trade guideline, or line of progression", Davies writes.

The Finnish solution is a long way from this. Demarcation lines in Finland are still intact and respected. An exception to this is the huge new pulp mill at Rauma in south-western Finland, where the agreement allows more flexible use of human resources.

"The company wants 365 day running time", Davies reports.

In the Finnish paper industry, up to the end of last year, there was a shutdown over the Mayday, Midsummer and Christmas holiday periods. A new agreement in the industry has moved the paid holidays around Mayday onto the two remaining holiday shutdowns. Both of these last for four days and eight hours.

In Canada, Fletcher Challenge seeks a six-year agreement. In Finland the present two-year agreement is valid from the beginning of 1998 until mid-January 2000.

In Finland the employers are committed to avoid the contracting out of permanent tasks to any extent exceeding the situation at the end of last year. The collective agreement allows temporary outsourcing during peak production and repair periods.

Media coverage of the western Canadian paperworkers' strike in Finland has included reports in the largest circulation daily paper Helsingin Sanomat and in the magazine of the Finnish Paperworkers Union.