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Finland’s Metal Workers End Strike After Wage Accord Is Struck

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Finland’s metal industry accepted a proposal to end a strike of more than 30,000 workers that started last week and had threatened to hurt the nation’s exports.

The Finnish Metal Workers’ Union, a second trade union representing workers called Pro, and the Federation of Finnish Technology Industries last night accepted a proposal by the state mediator to end a strike that began on Oct. 21, according to an e-mailed statement.

The action, spanning more than 35 companies including paper machine maker Metso Oyj, was due to last until Nov. 7 unless an accord was struck. A continued strike would have put Finnish sales abroad at risk. Exports, which are mostly made up of machinery and equipment, paper products and chemicals, account for about 40 percent of Finland’s economy.

A two-week port workers’ strike in March last year halted 90 percent of the country’s foreign trade, forcing exporters to close factories and costing 110 million euros ($153 million) a day in lost foreign sales. A 10-day strike at Finnair Oyj in December 2010 grounded more than half the airline’s planes as cabin crews fought to keep between-flight recovery time.

Framework Wage Deal

Individual unions are responsible for negotiating contracts within a framework wage deal agreed on by their umbrella organizations on Oct. 13. The two-year framework accord covering most industries includes wage increases of 2.4 percent for the first 13 months and 1.9 percent for the next 12 months.

Metal workers and employers rejected the first mediation proposal on Oct. 20. A second strike that would affect about 10,000 workers may still start on Nov. 1 as the accord struck last night doesn’t include the Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff, or YTN.

The strike had affected companies including ABB Ltd., Boliden AB, Kone Oyj, Konecranes Oyj, Outotec Oyj, Rautaruukki Oyj, Sandvik AB and Waertsilae Oyj. Boliden said the protest could cost the company about 4 million kronor ($610,000) to 5 million kronor a day as its zinc smelter and copper smelter shut down production. Konecranes said on Oct. 10 it had begun to move deliveries to supply units outside the country in preparation for the walkout.

Employees will return to work latest by 2 p.m. on Oct. 26, union Pro said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kati Pohjanpalo in Helsinki at kpohjanpalo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net

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