Threat of damaging strikes looms large over Finnish forest industries

Threat of damaging strikes looms large over Finnish forest industries

The Finnish Forest Industries has conceded that trade unions are very likely to follow through with their threat to start a two-week strike at sawmills and plywood mills in Finland on Monday, 27 January. The likelihood of the potentially costly strikes has risen due to an almost complete lack of progress in the collective bargaining talks between the Industrial Union and Finnish Forest Industries.

Jyrki Hollmén, head of industrial relations at the Finnish Forest Industries, said the Industrial Union appears to be uninterested in engaging in negotiations and finding common ground. The trade union, he told, is pursuing a co-ordinated agreement for all sectors, not realising that the objective of the negotiations is to establish the terms of employment separately for each sector.

Riku Aalto, chairperson of the Industrial Union, shifted the blame to employers. “Given that we have managed a single two-hour negotiating session after the strike warning and a number of issues remain unresolved, it may be that the employers’ estimate of [the likelihood of strikes] is accurate,” he retorted.

The Finnish Forest Industries stated that it continues to engage in talks with the Finnish Paper Workers’ Union, the representative of employees of pulp, paper and cardboard manufacturers. The negotiations are expected to continue today under the guidance of National Conciliator Vuokko Piekkala. “No solution is in sight, and very damaging strikes are threatening the industry. Many issues are still on the table,” said Hollmén. In addition to the Industrial Union and Paper Workers’ Union, Trade Union Pro has threatened to launch a two-week strike on Monday, 27 January.

The Finnish Forest Industries has calculated that the strikes would create revenue losses of almost one billion euros if they last the full two weeks: the revenue losses in the mechanical forest industry would amount to 270 million euros and those in the pulp, paper and cardboard industry to 640 million euros.

SOURCE: Helsinki Times.

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