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Sawmills and plywood factories back to work following new collective agreement

Unpaid work will now end in the mechanical forestry industry also, the Industrial Union says. The new collective agreement for sawmills and plywood factories drops the notorious 24 annual unpaid working hours, which was effectively steamrolled into collective agreements in 2016 by Finland's then right-wing Government.

The Industrial Union agreed on 23 February to the proposal made by the National Conciliator. The employers accepted it, too.

The agreement follows the general line of this negotiation round: a 3.3 per cent pay rise with a 25 months agreement. And the unpaid hours are gone.

The employers will be allowed to add paid working time on three working days during a year. With company level agreements, there will be more scope for employers to decide on when summer holidays take place.

Roughly 10,000 employees come under this collective agreement.

Turja Lehtonen, Vice President of the Industrial Union says that the agreement reached is the best that could be achieved in these circumstances. The Union succeeded with its two main goals, removing the unpaid work and guaranteeing the pay rise, he says.

The road leading to agreement was especially difficult. There has been targeted strikes for under four weeks and a six-day lock-out.

To put it mildly, the atmosphere at the negotiation table was not the best, especially as the employers presented a list of heavy demands aimed at cutting various benefits. According to the Union, this would have resulted in a 20 per cent cut in pay.

In some sawmills, the strike was even welcomed by owners as the storage facilities were full of timber.

According to Labour Market Director Jyrki Hollmén from the Finnish Forest Industries Federation “almost all sawmills and plywood factories” introduced production restrictions and lay-offs last autumn.

This may partly explain why the industry was very keen to call a six-day lock-out at a relatively early stage of the dispute.

Read more:

The long shadow of 2016 makes collective bargaining difficult (10.01.2020)