Helsinki (20.12.2021 - Heikki Jokinen) The forestry giant UPM crusade against collective bargaining escalates: it promises to pay 30 euro extra per day to all employees who will work as strikebreakers.

Almost all Finnish forestry companies have now agreed with the trade unions upon collective agreements for the next few years. Among them are the two other major companies Stora Enso and Metsä Group.

But UPM is a notable exception: it says it will not make any kind of collective agreement for salaried employees and it will only begin to negotiate on collective agreements for workers in its paper and pulp mills if the unions fully accept its preconditions as to the form of the agreement.

From the beginning of January, UPM says that it will unilaterally decide on the terms of work and pay for its employees in the paper and pulp mills in Finland. According to the unions, these terms have not yet even been disclosed to the employees.

As the negotiations have not even started and the existing paper industry collective agreement expires at the end of December, three unions gave a strike warning from the first of January.

The strike warning covers UPM Communication Papers Oy, UPM Raflatac Oy, UPM Specialty Papers Oy ja UPM-Kymmene Oyj.

The unions behind the warning are Trade Union Pro, the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union and the Paper Workers' Union. These unions represent some 3 000 employees in these UPM companies.

Jussi Pesonen, the UPM CEO informed the media that he had given a mandate to those in charge of labour market issues at UPM: if there were to be an agreement that improves "productivity and competitiveness", UPM will not close a single paper machine in the Finnish paper mills under the validity of the agreement.

In the event of a strike, this mandate will no longer be valid, Pesonen stressed. This kind of management by fear is a very unusual policy by the CEO of a public company. Especially as the UPM paper mills are doing very well at the moment and the company’s profit is at an excellent level.

Jorma Malinen, President of the Pro says that they cannot leave employees out in the cold. "Strike action is an extreme measure, but the UMP leaders' determination to destroy the stability of working life and the very basis of the livelihood of their staff is exceptional and unprecedented, too."

Read more:

UPM isolates itself more due to its labour market policy line (13.12.2021)