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JUHANI ARTTO
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Salaried employees take decisive measures
and opt for a two-week strike in the paper industry


Pro (07.04.2011 - Juhani Artto) In and around one thousand salaried employees, working for the forest industry company UPM-Kymmene, began a strike on Thursday morning. Pro, the trade union of salaried employees, believes that most of UPM-Kymmene's factories in Finland will interrupt their production this week.

The strike is planned to go on for two weeks. It will have an impact, for example, on the international administrative centre in Tampere. The centre is responsible for the company's financial administration, governance of the delivery chain, personnel and data management and all business in the energy sector. The industrial action will also effect UPM's production and UPM Seaway's port activity in Kotka, thus restricting the company's exports.

The major disagreement between Pro and the employer organization Finnish Forest Industries Federation concerns the salary system. Salaried employees of the paper industry want to have a similar salary system to the one applied in most industries where Pro represents salaried employees. The system takes into account both work requirements and personal skills. According to Pro this kind of salary system motivates the staff and supports the management of the company and thus benefits both the employer and the employees.

The employer side had previously promised to implement such a salary system. Pledges or promises to this effect had been given at three previous bargaining rounds.

Another disagreement concerns the model that should be used with respect to salary rises. Pro proposes a mixed model whereby lower salaries are raised in euros and higher salaries in percentages. This would mean a relatively higher increase in salaries at the lower end of the income scale. In the paper industry it would improve pay equality as female salaried employees clearly earn less than male salaried employees.

With its 130,000 rank and file members Pro is the largest salaried employees' union in the private sector and also the largest private sector affiliate in the Finnish Confederation of Professionals STTK.