Mills starting up gradually, impacts of stevedore strike will be felt for quite some time

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“Mills will be starting up gradually over a few days, depending on the logistics. The forest industry will be cleaning up the mess caused by the stevedore strike for a long time. In addition to making up for financial losses, we will have to work very hard to win back client confidence and return orders to Finland."

"The strike has added to the forest industry’s costs and is increasing pressure to achieve savings in other aspects of operations,” says Jari Forss, Executive Vice President of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

“The flow of export revenues was cut off after the stevedore strike halted the forest industry’s client deliveries. Whenever possible, companies transferred production to their other plants in Europe. The forest industry in Finland lost orders for good because clients can no longer rely on the delivery ability of Finnish factories.”

System for maintaining industrial peace needed

“Finland must develop its system for maintaining industrial peace. Our country can ill afford labour disputes that halt the deliveries of the entire export sector. In addition to the forest industry, the cost of the stevedore strike will be shouldered by the employees of the industry’s entire value chain as well as by the regions in which affected companies operate,” Forss says.

Several weeks until the situation is normal

It will take at least several weeks to clear inventories of export and import goods at harbours. The large number of full railway carriages that have accumulated in ports form a major problem because they place obstacles to loading, clog up rail yards and lead to a shortage of empty carriages elsewhere. Things will also be slowed down by the need to move cargo around the docks to facilitate the loading of ships that will arrive at the same time to pick up deliveries. Further financial losses may be caused if clients refuse to accept late deliveries. 

Paper mills will start up gradually over a few days. After the machines are launched, it will take some time to bring the quality of the manufactured paper up to the target level.

Sawmill production operations were not stopped because of the strike to as large an extent as occurred in the paper industry. The sawmill industry nevertheless was hit by the drying up of export revenues, in addition to which some of their clients solved their sawn timber needs by buying from other suppliers. Products meant for export were put into storage, while deliveries of woodchips to pulp mills as well as domestic deliveries of sawn timber were for the most part made as normal.

The strike led to stoppages of paper machines and sawmilling lines. Majority, nearly 70 per cent, of paper making capacity was shut down. About 4300 employees in forest-based industries in Finland run out of work because of the strike.

Some factories were kept in operation during the strike with exceptional arrangements. Temporary storage facilities were used to stockpile products and goods were taken by road, for example, to Swedish ports for shipping. These measures caused extra transport costs for companies and weakened their ability to compete with factories located in central Europe.

Further information:

Jari Forss, Executive Vice President (Labour Market), Finnish Forest Industries Federation, tel. +358 9 132 4440 or +358 40 570 7652

Background information for journalists:

About 90% of the paper industry’s and some 60% of the wood products industry’s production are exported.

The forest industry utilises over 15 seaports to handle its Finnish export and import activities. About 20 cargo ships filled with products depart from these harbours headed primarily for markets in Europe. Products are delivered to harbours over both rail and road.

The industry exports some 20 million tonnes of goods each year, in addition to importing almost as much in product raw materials.

There are 50 pulp, paper and paperboard mills, about 170 industrial-scale sawmills and 15 wood-based panel factories in operation in Finland. Finnish forest industry production facilities manufacture paper products for almost 100 million Europeans and wood products for some 50 million customers around the world.

Helena Aatinen, SVP (Communications),
tel. 358 9 132 66 45 or +358 40 548 66 75