The strike at the UPM paper mills in Finland came to an end on 22 April, as UPM and the Finnish Paperworkers’ Union agreed on first-ever business-specific collective labour agreements. The paper mills have since been focusing on starting the production and ensuring a safe working environment for the employees.
Work at the paper mills started directly as the strike ended. After successful ramp-up, all machines at UPM Rauma, Kymi, Kaukas and Jämsänkoski are now producing paper again.
"The paper machine lines started in stages, after which production has been back to normal at Kymi since the beginning of May", says Matti Laaksonen, General Manager, Kymi & Kaukas paper mills.
At the UPM Kaukas mill integrate, a yearly maintenance break was ongoing which also impacted the paper mill, but paper production is now back to normal.
PM6 at Jämsänkoski is also running again, and according to General Manager Antti Hermonen, everything has proceeded well despite the long break.
"We have had some challenges, but all things considered, kicking off the production has proceeded well. The staff has also returned to work with a positive attitude", says Antti Hermonen.
Safety is a priority for UPM. Maintenance work continued at the paper mills during the strike, to prevent bigger issues from occurring, and to enable the machines to start running safely and quickly again after a long break.
"We took safety into account and were prepared once the strike was over. Even after a long break, ramp-up proceeded safely", says production manager Ilkka Savolainen at UPM Rauma.
Each mill has clear instructions on safety practices and rules, which were also necessary to recap with all staff as work returned to normal.
"As the strike had ended, supervisors had safety discussions with their teams. The target was to make sure safety practices were in fresh memory after a long break", says Jenna Hakkarainen, Manager, Safety and Environment, UPM Kaukas.
Discussions focused especially on possible risks related to the machines exceptional state after being inactive for a long time.
Committed to paper
The contract period of the new business-specific collective labour agreement is four years. The key elements of the new agreement were the substitution of periodical pay with hourly pay and added flexibility to shift arrangements and the use of working time, which are essential for smooth operation.
The new agreement enables the UPM businesses to better respond to business-specific needs and provide a better foundation to ensure competitiveness.
“We are committed to graphic paper, and we want to build the right foundations for competitive business in the future. We now have an agreement which helps us to respond to the needs of our business area in specific.” says Hermonen.