Employers offer to further shorten the shortest working hours in Europe

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The Finnish Forest Industries Federation, representing the pulp and paper industry, has offered to shorten the shortest working time in Europe by an additional 11 hours. The Finnish Paperworkers’ Union has not, however, said that it would accept the offer. Although more talks were held today, 30 May, the National Conciliator has not yet been able to propose a settlement for the dispute.

"We have contributed to the settlement in many ways by seeking different options for eliminating shutdowns at pulp and paper mills and restrictions on the use of subcontractors and for reducing absenteeism due to illness. Nevertheless, the Finnish Paperworkers’ Union is holding back the negotiation process by refusing to reveal its objectives. We are offering 1600 euros together with a reduction of 11 hours in annual working time to offset the Christmas and Midsummer shutdowns for those who are working in three shifts and who already have the shortest working time in the European paper industry," says Mr. Timo Poranen, President of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

The official working time in uninterrupted three-shift work in the Finnish paper industry is 1616 hours. In 2003, the annual working time was in practice only 1488 hours, including overtime and excluding absenteeism due to illness.

. This is the shortest in Europe. Workers In the German paper industry put in an additional 200 hours annually. Germany is the biggest paper producer in Europe.

To strengthen competitiveness, the paper industry wants to remove the obligatory Christmas and Midsummer shutdowns and restrictions on the use of subcontractors from the paper industry collective agreement. These are unknown in any other sector of industry in Finland and in the paper industry abroad.

"The compulsory shutdowns at Christmas and Midsummer and restrictions on the use of subcontractors reduce competitiveness in the Finnish paper industry. These clauses concern only the paper industry today. In other sectors of industry they were removed at the end of 1960s," says Poranen.

For more information, please contact

Mr. Timo Poranen, President, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 6600
Mr. Arto Tähtinen, Senior Vice President, Labour Market Policy, Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 4441