Finnish strikes worsen paper shortage hitting Europe's industries

Thousands of workers at manufacturing have walked out over union deals

Magazine paper rolls at a Finnish paper mill where strikes have halted production. Reuters
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Paper shortages in Europe threaten the supply of printed products and risked disruption to food and consumer goods supply chains.

Strikes by workers at mills in Finland have exacerbated a shortfall caused by a strong demand for paper after lockdowns eased.

Thousands of employees working at plants run by forestry group UPM-Kymmene in Finland have walked out.

Earlier this month, strike action which began in January was extended for the third time, by a further three weeks. It means machines will be unmanned until March 12 if a compromise deal cannot be struck.

The strikes, which relate to the company’s plans to make division-by-division deals with unions instead of one arrangement for all employees, have caused printers, print buyer and paper merchants to despair.

Finat, the European association for the self-adhesive label industry and narrow web packaging industry, is among those to have been bit by the shortage. The group represents more than 1,000 label producers across the continent, many of whom are concerned about the lack of paper.

The issues could affect many industries that rely on paper and labels, such as the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, personal care, health, electronics and automotive sectors.

Newspaper groups and publishers are also feeling the ripple effects.

Asset manager Abrdn was forced to delay a vote on a £1.5 billon deal, after it could not find enough paper to produce the printed documents required to send to shareholders.

The European print trade body Intergraf issued a warning about the effects of the strikes on Monday, saying printers’ stocks will not last until workers have returned to the mills.

Intergraf estimates European printers are experiencing a 40 per cent shortage in the paper they require to fulfil orders.

Updated: February 15, 2022, 3:08 PM