Finnish court hands down fines to unions for May strike

Jan. 3, 2007 (Helsingin Sanomat) - The Finnish Labour Court announced on Tuesday its ruling on last May's illegal stoppages at Finnish pulp and paper mills.

The Finnish Paper Workers' Union, the Union of Salaried Employees TU, and the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union with their affiliated associations have been sentenced to pay a total of EUR 271,800 in fines for last May's illegal protest strikes.

The purpose of the three-day strike was to oppose the planned job cuts by certain pulp and paper mills. A total of almost 20,000 factory workers and industry office workers took part in the illegal protest strike last May.

The 53 local unions of the Finnish Paper Workers' Union were sentenced to fines of EUR 800 to 5,600 each. The aggregate fines to the Paperworkers' Union amounted to EUR 175,000.

The 43 local unions of the Union of Salaried Employees TU were slapped with an aggregate penalty of EUR 55,500, while the 15 associations of the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union were punished with a fine of EUR 17,300.

The Unions themselves were sentenced to pay fines already in the autumn. At that point the Paper Workers' Union was ordered to pay EUR 12,000, while the Union of Salaried Employees and the Finnish Electrical Workers' Union had to pay a joint sum of EUR 12,000.

According to both the Labour Court and the unions, the fines are probably the largest inflicted in the paper sector ever, even though no statistics of such fines exist in Finland.

However, the Confederation of Finnish Industries EK and the Finnish Forest Industries Federation both regard the fines as trivial when set against the millions of euros in production losses that ensued from the illegal strikes.

SOURCE: Helsingin Sanomat

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