UPM paper strike extended into April as talks stall

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The longest strike in Finnish papermaking history has been extended again, as UPM management and unions remain at loggerheads.

At loggerheads: UPM staff and management

Workers will now stay out until at least 6 April, which will be more than three months since the strike that has crippled UPM output began on 1 January.

UPM is Europe’s biggest papermaker, with the €10bn a company producing commercial, publishing and label papers for printers around the world, including those in Australia and New Zealand. Tony Bertrand, marketing manager at local distributor Ball & Doggett, says the strike is “compounding” supply issues.

Finnish paperworker’s union Paperiliitto has accused UPM of “arrogance” towards its staff, and questioned if the company’s management understand the seriousness of the situation.

Management and unions have been working to reach an agreement with a national conciliator since Valentine’s Day, but according to the union are as far apart as ever.

As far as labels go the European label association Finat has already said that there will be, “Severe consequences for the label value chain, economy and societies” if the strike carries on, because UPM manufactures base papers for a host of other label material suppliers, in addition to its own UPM Raflatac products.

UPM workers are being supported by the electricians’ union, which is refusing to carry out maintenance on the mills, and the transport workers, who have put a total block on any UPM product.

The UPM mills impacted by the strike are:

  • UPM Jämsänkoski (graphic papers including uncoated magazine paper and specialty papers)
  • UPM Kymi (WFC and WFU graphic papers including Finesse and Fine)
  • UPM Kaukas (LWC graphic papers including Ultra and Star)
  • UPM Rauma (LWC magazine papers)
  • UPM Tervasaari (specialty release liner base papers)
  • UPM Raflatac Tampere (labels)

The UPM Kymi, UPM Pietarsaari and UPM Kaukas pulp mills are also included in the strike action, as is the UPM Kaukas biorefinery.

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