UPM Strike Resolved: Industry Responds

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Industry business leaders have expressed relief that the long-running strike at UPM’s Finnish factories is over, but concerns remain over how long it will take for supplies of paper and labels to recover. normalize.

On Friday afternoon (April 22), UPM and the Finnish papermakers’ union Paperiliitto announced that an agreement had finally been reached.

The strike began on January 1 and lasted nearly four months at 112 days – the longest industrial action of its kind in Finland.

Some 2,100 workers were on strike, and 200 of them were to continue working on tasks deemed critical to the company.

Printing industry executives overwhelmingly responded with relief to the news, but with the caveat that there remained questions about how long it would take for supplies to be restored.

Regarding the restarting of factories, a UPM spokesperson said Print week“Workers returned to work over the weekend. Start-up times vary from plant to plant and a detailed schedule cannot be provided, particularly when machines and processes have been down for months.

“Generally speaking, pulp mills take less time to ramp up than paper mills, and the slowest to warm up will be the Lappeenranta biorefinery,” the spokesperson said.

UPM has also written to customers to explain how the resumption of deliveries will be handled.

The group indicated that, given the ongoing tensions in the market and its ramp-up schedule, orders already placed are given priority and will be processed as a priority from this week (week 17).

“We expect to accept additional orders from week 19 at the earliest, please note that we have a lead time of 3-4 months for our European deliveries and up to 5 months for our overseas deliveries”, UPM said.

The automaker also reported that the “exceptional situation” would also result in a very high workload for its order management and supply chain teams.

The UPM factories affected by the strike are:

  • UPM Jämsänkoski (graphic papers, including uncoated magazine paper and specialty papers)
  • UPM Kymi (WFC and WFU graphic papers, including Finesse and Fine)
  • UPM Kaukas (LWC graphic papers including Ultra and Star)
  • UPM Rauma (LWC magazine papers)
  • UPM Tervasaari (special release liner base papers)
  • UPM Raflatac Tampere (labels)

In addition, the UPM Kymi, UPM Pietarsaari and UPM Kaukas pulp mills have been included, as has the UPM Kaukas biorefinery.

After a previous planned shutdown for maintenance and upgrades at UPM Kymi, the plant was back in operation four days after work was completed. In integrated mills, the pulp mill must first be started, which can take several days.

A papermaking expert said Print week this start-up could also be extended if paper machine garments – such as press felts, forming fabrics and dryer fabrics – also need to be changed

Industry reaction:

Charles Jarrold, CEO, BPIF

“From BPIF’s perspective, we are delighted to hear that an agreement has been reached – disruption was really the last thing the sector needed with so many other challenges in the supply chain.

“We have been working closely with the most affected parts of our industry who have had quite a torrid time trying to prevent critical supply chains from being further disrupted. We have also kept the government closely informed, as this has been a matter of concern for them, particularly in relation to the food and pharmaceutical sectors, and they are also delighted and relieved to hear the news.


Nick Gee, Managing Director, Denmaur Paper Media

“Although we managed to keep the majority of our customers happy, some areas were just not possible, some label products for example. I am glad that common sense has prevailed and the dispute has been resolved, but we must all realize that it will be some time before normal service resumes.

“I am neither an engineer nor a papermaker, but I can only imagine that the paper machines that have been sitting idle during the Finnish winter may not produce salable paper immediately, and with the whole pipeline so empty. , it will be some time before we see normalcy return.”


Will Parker, Tag Industry Expert and FINAT Committee Member

“Having reflected over the weekend, what clearly disappoints me is this decision [to take on the unions] was planned, but no planning was given to build stock and inventory to cover the inconvenience to the customer. If they had built stocks, which they might have done last year, the market would not have felt the pain.

“UPM took price increase after price increase and used the money to resolve an internal dispute, but none of that money was allocated to customer support. failure of planning, huge disrespect towards the customer, and which I am not entirely sure will contribute to UPM’s rapid recovery with the confidence of its customers.

“I expect this will have ramifications that will change the supply of glossy label paper. Someone, somewhere will start producing an alternative supply.

“I also believe that before long the industry or parts of the industry may choose to test UPM’s force majeure position in court. The amount of pain he caused could have been avoided.

“The end of the strike is cause for limited celebrations that they wrapped it up in, even though they wrapped it up for four years when we know they made a date to fight again!”


Mike Roberts, Managing Director, PMG Print Management and Chairman of the IPIA

“Thank goodness for the whole industry, we can now try to give customers what they need.”


Andrew Bowden, Managing Director, Westcolour

“Finally positive news for the industry!”


Ian Kendall, CEO, Reflex Group

“We have to remember that things were far from normal before the strike anyway. There were long lead times, lack of availability, and all sorts of supply chain difficulties.

“It will take them months to get back to normal. You can’t just turn on paper mills and machines that have been down for four months.

“What I can’t get out of my head is the billions of pounds of supply chain damage that UPM and the unions have caused each other. I think the implications for UPM are going to be huge. I think their mark is tainted. I know many people and brand owners who in the future will want to know that they are not doing business with UPM.

“Material that we could get in two days, if we order today it will be in August or September. That is the supply chain damage and impact that has happened.

“The damage is just epic. We tried to do our best but I had hysterical customers. I had clients who insulted me. It was awful.

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