Thursday 16:00 - Paper workers reject mediation offer
Lock out at pulp and paper mills set to continue
On Thursday afternoon, the Finnish Paperworkers' Union rejected unanimously the mediation proposal put forward on Tuesday evening by National Conciliator Juhani Salonius.
The Finnish Forest Industries Federation reported some minutes earlier that they had accepted the document.
The proposal contained a few adjustments from the one rejected by the Paperworkers' Union a couple of weeks ago. The Union's representatives had pored over the new initiative from mid-morning.
Earlier in the week, Lauri Ihalainen, President of the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) and Seppo Riski, head of labour market affairs at the Confederation of Finnish Industry (EK), had urged both sides to accept the proposed settlement, citing the growing problems in other economic sectors that would result from a continued impasse.
In recent days, agreement has stalled primarily on the dispute over the outsourcing of cleaning and other operations at paper mills. At present, cleaning staff at mills are members of the Paperworkers' Union, and earn considerably more than other cleaners.
Salonius admitted the extraordinary difficulty of this particular sticking-point, but believed he had come up with an acceptable compromise.
The Paperworkers' Union began a two-day strike on May 15th, but even prior to that stoppage, pulp and paper mills had experienced numerous shutdowns as a result of Union overtime bans and the employers' threat to close down plants and interrupt salary payments.
The Finnish Forest Industries Federation then initiated a lock-out at all member mills on May 18th, and this has lasted for more than five weeks.
The impact on Finnish growth prospects has inevitably been substantial, with GDP forecasts being downgraded accordingly.
More on this subject:
Paperworkers' Union online message board shut down until Monday
Previously in HS International Edition:
New mediation proposal in paper industry dispute - response expected Thursday (22.6.2005)
Paper dispute mediation fails again - lockout and strike action to go on (15.6.2005)
Paper workers reject mediation proposal as "completely inadequate" (6.6.2005)
Employers likely to continue paper lockout as mediation efforts go on (31.5.2005)
No quick end in sight to paper dispute - talks still deadlocked (26.5.2005)
Paper lockout begins - shortage of products feared in coming weeks (19.5.2005)
Two-day strike shuts down entire Finnish pulp and paper industry (16.5.2005)
Paper industry says union inflexibility could lead to mill closures (9.5.2005)
Industrial action stops all paper and pulp mills until Friday morning (28.4.2005)