Finnish forest company betrays workers, abandons collective bargaining

After decades of a well-functioning collective bargaining history, the United Paper Mills (UPM) has decided not to negotiate the terms of employment of its salaried employees at any level. 

In an open letter, UPS’ salaried workers decried the company’s 180 turn, calling it an “outright betrayal” of their trust. “We consider that we were outright betrayed by our employer, and now no longer know what we can trust. If this situation persists, it will lead to distrust that will inevitably affect work motivation and well-being at work which isn’t beneficial to anyone.”

“We also strongly question the consistency of this conduct with the company’s values stating that one should trust and be trusted, keep one’s promises and make sure others keep their promises too,” the workers said.


The workers explained that following the Finnish Forest Industries Federation’s announcement last year that it would cease to participate in collective bargaining, information sessions were held where they were told that future personnel group’s terms of employment would be agreed at the company level. 

However, in February, UPS shifted gears and decided not to negotiate the terms of employment of its salaried employees at any level. The company justified this by saying that similar terms of employment already apply to its senior salaried employees, even if they have no collective agreement.

According to Trade Union Pro President Jorma Malinen, “UPM threatens to destroy the trust of their personnel.” 

“A responsible employer cannot act like this without consequences. How can the employer in this day and age pursue a return to dictatorial policies with such a contempt towards the contractual society that has provided the basis for the company’s success?” Malinen said. 

The workers demanded UPS to abide by international labour standards set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the European Social Charter. They also said that UPM is recognised by the United Nations (UN) as a “Global Compact Lead Participant,” and as such, is committed to support and exercise the basic working life principles in its own sphere of influence.

“We demand that UPM fully respects its own values and Finland’s and the company’s international commitments in its operations. Instead of being a cautionary example, UPM should keep its promises and demonstrate its responsibility by undertaking collective bargaining negotiations with its salaried employees,” the workers said.