***UPDATE*** On Monday 15 January, IndustriALL Global Union's Finnish affilaite, Pro, scored a victory after steadfast resistance from its members. Both trade union Pro and employers’ association, Finnish Forest Industries, approved the mediation proposal of the National Conciliator for the paper sector’s white-collar employees to increase salaries, and all strike actions were immediately cancelled. Pro succeeded in securing a pay rise for workers and resisted employers' demands to weaken the industry-wide collective agreement.
IndustriALL Global Union is supporting its Finnish affiliate Pro as it fights aggressive attempts by employers to make cuts to employment conditions across the industry.
Pro refuses to agree to the cuts and 3,000 members across the industry have been on an indefinite overtime ban since Tuesday 9 January. The white-collar workers will conduct a full one-week strike starting at 6am on 17 January. The strike will seriously disrupt production.
Despite healthy profits and productivity in the paper sector in Finland, the sector’s employer association, Finnish Forest Industries, is proposing to take away a raft of benefits that workers have gained over decades of constructive industrial relations.
The other area that the employers are attempting to change is by taking away the decision-making power of local level bargaining partners, and instead give management the power to make unilateral decisions on how to allocate salary increases.
The union proposal on wages is a mix of two components, one general increase for all workers in the sector, and a separate salary increase to be negotiated locally. This would allow a fair distribution to those employees whose salary has lagged behind in recent years.
The Finnish Government will arbitrate the next round of bargaining on Sunday, 14 January, where the employers’ association has the opportunity to retract its unreasonable proposals. Jari Uschanov, Pro National Officer, leads the union bargaining committee.
IndustriALL Global Union Research and Industry Officer Tom Grinter said:
“How dare these companies break the spirit of collegiality and trust that has been built over so many years. The proposed cuts will directly punish the workers’ pocket at a time when those workers are increasing the profits made. Unbelievable and unacceptable. IndustriALL Global Union stands firmly in support of the sector-wide strike that starts next Wednesday morning.”