Finnish trade union Pro announces new salaried paper industry employee strikes at Metsäliitto, Stora Enso, Efora, Sappi Finland's Kirkniemi mill; FFIF says Pro's actions violate labor law, allegation of the employment of scabs is untrue

Kendall Sinclair

Kendall Sinclair

May 11, 2011 – Finnish Forest Industries Federation

HELSINKI , May 10, 2011 (press release) – Trade union Pro made an announcement today about numerous new unlawful strikes affecting salaried paper industry employees. Industrial action will target Metsäliitto, Stora Enso, Efora and Sappi Finland's Kirkniemi mill. Throughout the ongoing dispute, Pro has intentionally acted in violation of labour legislation by organising one lawless industrial action after another.

“Companies cannot operate in a country that allows one trade union to constantly violate labour law. This will lead to functions being relocated into other countries,” says Jari Forss, Deputy Director General of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.

Strikebreakers not being used

Trade union Pro has claimed that the employer has resorted to using scab labour during the dispute. This is untrue, as forest industry companies have not hired strikebreakers. Salaried employees are not the industry's only personnel group and the employer has a responsibility to keep mills functioning, as work does not go on strike and not all employees are participating in Pro's lawless actions.
“We are complying with Finnish legislation and we expect Pro to follow the law as well. Pro is continuing to implement unlawful measures, displaying its complete disregard for the law,” Jari Forss continues.

“We remain prepared to grant salaried employees a corresponding 2.5% pay rise as was agreed to with the paper industry's other personnel group earlier this spring. The possibility of cooperating in the development of company-specific pay systems likewise remains open.”

The topics of dispute have long ago ceased to be in any way proportionate to Pro's industrial actions and the union needs to return to the negotiation table.

Pro behind numerous unlawful strikes

Pro has staged several lawless industrial actions during the dispute. Most recently, on 9 May, it announced that it was moving the launch of a strike affecting UPM's Kymi mill forward. Last week, on 5 May, Pro declared that salaried employees working for the port operator at Rauma were launching a sympathy strike. At the beginning of May, Pro also declared an unlawful three-day strike affecting salaried UPM employees. Over Easter, the union announced that it was moving the Stora Enso and Metsäliitto strike one day forward. Towards the end of April, Pro urged Stora Enso's and Efora's Oulu-based salaried employees as well as salaried employees working at Stora's Kotka and Anjala service centres to launch an unlawful industrial action. In addition, Pro violated labour law at the very start of the collective bargaining dispute when it declared an overtime ban during the collective labour agreement's period of validity.

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