Today, Thursday, 15 April 2021, the forest industrial company UPM has laid off the shop steward representing Kaukas sawmill salaried employees against the terms of the collective agreement.
– Prior to the dismissal, the management of UPM’s Kaukas sawmill asserted that this was not a personal issue. So, this is an extensive effort aimed at weakening the trade union movement, explains Jorma Malinen, president of the Trade Union Pro.
The Employment Contracts Act guarantees shop stewards’ lay-off protection. According to Malinen, UPM is testing the legal boundaries and has ceased to abide by the Employment Contracts Act or the collective agreements concluded by the Finnish Forest Industries Federation with trade unions.
– UPM’s labour relation policy has reached rock bottom and there is no accountability in it, says Malinen.
The collective agreement for salaried employee in the paper industry is valid until the end of December 2021, and the collective agreement for the salaried employees in the mechanical forest industry is valid until the end of February 2022.
Pro calls for new legislation imposing sizeable corporate fines, adjusted to the company’s turnover and size, on companies in situations where the employment legislation is harshly breached. The working group preparing the localized bargaining system must also genuinely give a higher priority to the state of protection of the employee representative than the current situation.
– If it is easier for a company earning billions to pay compensation for dismissal than to abide by the law and collective agreements, one cannot expect too much from a future local bargaining system, Malinen says.
The UPM has previously announced that it will not negotiate the terms and conditions of employment of salaried employees with trade unions.
– UPM aims to unilaterally dictate sick pay, maternity and paternity leave pay, and holiday bonuses in Finland. The company will, however, honour agreements and dialogue with trade unions in the rest of the world, says Petteri Hyttinen who oversees the Mechanical Forest Industry bargaining in Pro.
UPM employee representatives of salaried employees expressed their huge disappointment with the action of the employer in an open letter to the company’s management dated 18 March 2021. The employee representatives were shocked at how the company downright despises its own values which emphasise trust and negotiations.