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Stora Enso's strikers entitled to performance bonuses

TU (23.12.2010 - Juhani Artto) On Wednesday the High Court ordered Stora Enso to pay to its 200 salaried employees at the Oulu and Anjalankoski mills over  EUR200,000. This verdict finally brought resolution to a dispute originating from spring 2006.

Then Stora Enso refused to pay performance bonuses to salaried employees who had taken part in the industrial action organized by their trade unions. The strike was a protest against the thousands of dismissals in the forest industry.

"The High Court's decision affirmed an important judicial principle", says Antti Rinne, the President of the Union of Salaried Employees TU.

"The High Court declared that the employer cannot contravene or place restrictions on the right to strike by limiting employees' right to performance bonuses because of their participation in strikes organized by trade unions."

Rinne also finds it significant that, according to the High Court,
the consequences of a strike can only target an organization but not its rank and file members.

The High Court's Wednesday decision concerns a fifth of the employees involved in the dispute. However, the remaining- almost 800 salaried employees- will also get the performance bonuses, which has up until now been denied them by their employer Stora Enso. The company now has to fork out over one million euros altogether in disputed performance bonuses.

Stora Enso was not ordered to pay out any indemnity to the employees concerned on top of the performance bonuses, even though the company had discriminated against those employees who had participated in the protest strike organized by their unions.

Else-Mai Kirvesniemi, the director of TU's legal unit, sees the need to
amend the legislation so that an employer would have to pay compensation or indemnity if caught out discriminating against organized employees.