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Anti-Government Protest Closes Finland’s 16 Pulp, 31 Paper and Paperboard Mills for Day

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Finland’s 16 pulp, paper, and packaging mills were halted by anti-government protests this past Friday, September 18. Union leaders and opposition politicians urged the government to renounce plans to reduce Sunday allowances, and maximum holiday time through binding legislation.

The governmental measures would hit hard public sector employees with often comparatively low pay in the Finnish living cost conditions.

Both local and long haul train services remained idle until 6 pm and most buses until Saturday morning. Finnish national carrier Finnair cancelled several domestic flights, but international flights suffered delays only.

Paper and pulp mills and other major industrial sites were closed for the day. Finland’s daily pulp capacity is around 25,000 metric tons and its daily paper and paperboard production capacity is 33,000 metric tons.

The governmental measures aim at cutting production costs in Finland by 5%. In a rare national TV and radio address on Wednesday, Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipila said he would welcome other ways of saving costs, but did not give up the 5% target. The workers' unions have accused the government of taking one-sided position in favor of the employers' interests only.

Friday's protests were believed to be the first anti-government movement in Finland without a grievance against the employers since the civil war in 1918.

Much of national economic decision making in Finland has been based on a tripartite bargaining system between the employees, the government, and the employers since the 1960s. Political historians noted the tense situation of recent weeks has brought back recollections of the polarization in the 1920s and 1930s.

This report is provided courtesy of:   


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