The Finnish Paperworkers’ Union rejects a proposal which is in line with the general incomes policy settlement: Paperworkers’ Union endangers the future of the Finnish paper industry

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The Finnish Paperworkers’ Union today rejected the proposal made by the National Conciliator on June 1, 2005 for a settlement in the labour market dispute. The proposal was accepted by the employers despite the fact that it included items which were very difficult for the industry, but as a whole it was considered to be in the interests of both the paper industry and the Finnish economy.

The National Conciliator’s proposal would have brought employees a higher than 6 per cent rise in wages on average — more than 2500 euros — over the next three years. At the same time, the Paperworkers’ Union rejected an additional pay rise of 1,600 euros together with an 11 hour reduction in working hours to compensate for working over Christmas and Midsummer. According to the proposal, it would also have been possible to choose more spare time instead of the extra compensation awarded for working during holidays. The paper workers’ annual working hours are already the shortest in Europe and amount in practice to 32 hours per week on average. There is no reason to shorten the working hours any more.

The weakening world economy has cast a shadow over the negotiations for the paper industry’s collective labour agreement. In the changed economic environment, the pulp and paper industry needs to cut down all extra costs in order to strengthen its competitiveness. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for the industry to accept a solution which would increase its costs any more than the proposal that was rejected today.

The key issue from the point of view of competitiveness is subcontracting which must be solved in such a way that the pulp and paper industry are given the same flexible opportunities to operate as other Finnish industries, such as the metal and engineering industry.

For more information, please contact:

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