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Stora Enso bends to High Court's decision after irresponsible delay:
Strike participants will finally receive their performance bonuses


Helsinki (26.01.2011 - Juhani Artto) The Finnish-Swedish forest industry company Stora Enso announced on Tuesday that it will adhere to the decision made by the High Court in December 2010. It means that the company will finally pay performance bonuses to employees whose bonuses it had withheld because of their participation in strikes in 2005-2009.

The dispute originates from spring 2006 when Stora Enso refused to pay performance bonuses to employees who had taken part in the industrial action organized by their trade unions. In December 2010 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.

It was the Trade Union of Salaried Employees TU (now Pro, after the merger with the trade union Pro) that took Stora Enso to the court on behalf of its concerned rank and file members, numbering approximately one thousand salaried employees. They will now receive the disputed bonuses, summing up to over one million euros.

Prior to the announcement on Tuesday, Stora Enso had  irresponsibly and strangely refused to pay the performance bonuses, despite the High Court ruling. Faced with this situation, shop stewards of the salaried employees decided on January 21 to organize a two-day strike in case of further delay by the company. The strike was set to begin early morning January 27. Stora Enso’s announcement made on Tuesday means that the planned industrial action has now been cancelled. 

Antti Rinne, the President of the salaried employee trade union Pro, is satisfied on behalf of the salaried employees involved in the dispute. In addition, the decision, fought for by these salaried employees, will also benefit other employee groups, he adds.

As a result of the High Court ruling also thousands of paper workers will receive the bonuses for their performances in 2005-2009. Stora Enso announced on Tuesday that it will pay "all unpaid performance-based rewards from 2005-2009, including interest, on the same basis as that covered by the precedent". The company says to have reserved EUR21 million for cash expenses "related to performance-based rewards that were not paid due to illegal strikes in Finland in 2005-2009".

"Stora Enso has shown astonishing indifference towards the sense of justice of the Finnish people and towards the High Court verdict. And this is all the more annoying when it is considered that such behaviour has been conducted by a company where the government is among the major owners, and thus is under ministerial guidance", Pro's President Rinne comments.

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