More than 50,000 Finnish industrial workers threaten to strike over wage dispute

FILE PHOTO: A maintenance truck seen at UPM-Kymmene’s biofuel plant in Lappeenranta
FILE PHOTO: A maintenance truck seen at UPM-Kymmene???s biofuel plant in Lappeenranta, Finland, March 9, 2016. REUTERS/Jussi Rosendahl/File Photo

December 30, 2021

By Essi Lehto

HELSINKI (Reuters) – More than 50,000 Finnish industrial workers plan to go on strike in January in a wage dispute, potentially shutting down plants in mining, metals and technology, three labour unions said on Thursday.

Finnish industrial employers say higher wages threaten competitiveness while unions say the current pay offer will worsen employees’ standard of living.

The 10-day strike planned to start on Jan. 14 would affect operations at over 200 companies in Finland including Nokia, Kone, Metso Outotec and Outokumpu as well as Swedish firms Sandvik and SSAB and Swiss ABB.

The unions will meet with Finland’s National Conciliator on Jan. 4 to try to find a solution on wage increases in the new collective labour agreement, the conciliator’s office said on Thursday.

Another strike is set to shut down forestry company UPM’s Finnish plants for three weeks starting Jan. 1 after UPM rejected workers’ demands for a company-specific collective labour agreement.

In October 2020, Finnish Forest Industries, the federation representing forestry companies, said it would quit collective bargaining and replace industry-wide agreements with companies negotiating with directly with staff.

UPM rival Stora Enso signed company-specific collective agreements in October

(Reporting by Essi Lehto; Editing by Toby Chopra)