The Finnish Paper Workers’ Union and Finnish Forest Industries came to an agreement, ending a two-week strike that halted production of one of Finland’s primary exports — pulp and paper products. An estimated 9,000 Paper Workers’ Union members participated in the strike that began on Jan. 27, affecting pulp and paper mills across Finland.
Petri Vanhala, the chairperson of the Finnish Paper Workers’ Union, described the new agreement as a cake “with a bit of sand and cream” for both parties. “Everything is now set and we will start starting up the factories,” said Vanhala. The agreement will increase salaries by 3.3% over a 25- month period, and increase annual production time of factories by 24 hours through shortening midsummer stoppages in late June, Finnish Forest Industries association said in a statement.
Jyrki Hollmén, the director of labor market affairs at Finnish Forest Industries, said the industry cannot be satisfied with the agreement because it will, at best, maintain the current level of competitiveness and fails to tackle the structural issues of the industry. “We cannot be satisfied with the agreement as it fails to improve our competitiveness,” he told. Hollmén also viewed that the strikes cost the industry “way too much.”
Stora Enso, one of Finland’s biggest paper producers, has said the strike cost it 11 million euros for each week of industrial action. Strikes in the mechanical forest industry are still ongoing as an agreement continues to elude the Industrial Union and Finnish Forest Industries. Attempts to resolve the labor dispute will continue at the office of the National Conciliator.