UPM strike to continue into March

Union to extend 5-week strike for another three weeks

UPM extends product portfolio at Jämsänkoski paper mill

The Paperworker’s Union in Finland announced on 4 February 2022 that the UPM plant workers will continue their strike till 12 March if they do not reach a new collective agreement with the company before then. The strike began on 1 January 2022 – exacerbating a difficult situation for paper in Europe that existed even earlier. The union has been negotiating with UPM over pay and other conditions in the paper industry.

It is expected that AKT, the Finnish Transport Workers’ Union, that has blockaded UPM to support the Finnish Paperworkers’ Union is also going on strike from the coming Monday – February 14 to stop all paper shipments from all Finnish mills.

Finnish labor talks have traditionally been across sectors with collective agreements signaling industrial peace between unions and companies. UPM’s representatives say they would prefer to negotiate an agreement unit-by-unit this time as the businesses may differ and from their point of view a single collective agreement is not applicable or desirable. After a meeting last Friday, the Paperworker’s Union announced that it is prepared and willing to negotiate with UPM on a unit by unit basis. The union has already reached an agreement with Stora Enso and the Metsa Group.

UPM is a significant producer of commercial, label, and web offset papers, including several publication grades particularly lightweight coated (LWC) and mediumweight coated (MWC) publishing grades, along with its UPM Raflatac labelstock. Paper distributors around the world are telling printers to ensure they keep abreast of developments.

As we have written earlier, the paper demand and supply situation in Europe and globally has varied from erratic to abysmal with several types of stresses including fuel surcharges and the increase in the cost of containers and their limited availability in the past two years. There is also a considerable restructuring of the industry taking place over the past five years. Many publication paper machines and mills are being shut down totally and others are being re-engineered or replaced by paperboard machines for packaging.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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