HELSINKI, Nov 11, 2015 (Press Release) - Only paperboard production volumes remained stable in July-September. Pulp and paperboard production volumes have increased since the beginning of January, while the production of wood products and paper has decreased in the first three quarters of the year. Although investments in the sector have increased, cost pressures continue to be strong. This is why companies' cost competitiveness must be improved.
Production in the third quarter shrank across the forest industry, except in the paperboard sector. Paperboard production volumes continued to be as high as in July-September 2014, that is, at 720,000 tonnes. Sawn softwood production totalled 2.4 million cubic metres, which is three per cent less than in the year-ago period. At 1.7 million tonnes, pulp production was likewise three per cent below levels seen in July-September 2014. Meanwhile, paper production fell four per cent to 1.8 million tonnes.
"Finland's cost competitiveness must be supported with actions that will have a quick effect. Furthermore, wage agreements in the coming years must be moderate. Rigid collective agreements in effect prevent measures that could improve productivity and competitiveness locally," says Timo Jaatinen, Director General of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation.
Since the beginning of January, pulp and paperboard production increased by one per cent and three per cent respectively, compared to the corresponding period in 2014. Sawn softwoods production shrank by four per cent in January-September while paper production fell three per cent.
According to Mr Jaatinen, the good news from the sector should not divert attention from cost pressures and challenges in the operating environment.
"Because investments in the sector are growing, decision makers must pay increasing attention to the opportunities presented by the bioeconomy. Wood raw material must be made available by encouraging forest owners to be active. Furthermore, measures must be taken to ensure skilled labour is available. Emissions Trading Scheme compensation must also be adopted in full," Mr Jaatinen says.
Strike had negative impact on September figures
Paper and paperboard production fell 10.8 per cent in September compared to the corresponding period in 2014. Production in September totalled only 780 000 tonnes, mainly due to the political strike that affected the Finnish Forest Industries Federation's member companies.
The strike organised by the Finnish Paper Workers' Union and the Woodworkers' Union cost forest companies approximately EUR 42 million. On 18 September, 80 per cent of forest industry workers were on a union-organised strike, while in the technology industry less than 10 per cent of workers participated in industrial action.
"In competitor countries, industrial action that is aimed at government actions is not possible. Since security of supply is a key competitive factor, Finland's reputation suffered yet another blow. A revamp of the system of industrial peace is absolutely necessary. Political and illegal strikes are under special State protection in Finland," Mr Jaatinen says.