The BPIF has joined the calls for an end to ongoing strike action at Finnish paper mills as the resulting paper shortages begin to spill over from the Continent to the UK.

Staff at UPM’s paper, pulp and biofuels plants have been on strike since 1 January after UPM and their union failed to agree terms on a new collective labour agreement. Since its inception the strike has been extended several times and is currently scheduled to continue until at least 12 March. 

The BPIF is working in conjunction with European print trade body Intergraf, of which it is a member, and Finat, the European association for the self-adhesives industry to urge the end of the strike.

Intergraf says that, as a direct result of the strike, there is a paper shortage across Europe that is now threatening the supply of printed products. The organisation claims that printing companies’ stocks will not last until the strike has been settled and estimates that from mid-February there will be a 40% shortage in the paper needed by European printers.

As well as calling on UPM directly to settle the strike, Intergraf has written to the European Commission to highlight the difficult supply situation, as well as the rise in costs of raw materials and energy. Beyond this a coalition comprising Finat, BPIF Labels and eight other national labels associations has written directly to Jussi Pesonen, CEO of UPM and Petri Vanhala, president of Paperiliitto (the Finnish Paper Workers Union) calling on the leaderships to ‘do everything possible to end the strike at the UPM mills as soon as possible.’

BPIF chief executive Charles Jarrold commented, ‘A shortage of paper is a grave threat to our supply chains and ultimately to the products available for customers. Without labels, packaged goods cannot come to market and consumers will suffer the loss of many everyday items – foods, drinks, and medicines to name a few key areas.

‘As part of Intergraf we strongly urge a resolution to the UPM strike, and we support the raising of the wider issues with the Commission. This instance shows that although we are no longer part of the EU, our domestic industry is greatly affected by Europe, and our work with Intergraf is as important as ever.

 ‘We will also be raising this matter with the UK Government in the coming days to ensure that they are aware of, and understand the seriousness, of the situation and its impact on consumers.’