STORA ENSO on Wednesday revealed it is considering permanently shutting down one of its two paper machines in Anjala, a district of Kouvola, Southern Finland.
The Finnish pulp and paper manufacturer said it will launch consultative negotiations covering all roughly 500 employees at the integrated site, which consists of a paper production unit and a packaging board production unit.
The statutory negotiations with employee representatives are scheduled to start next week and last at least six weeks.
The Anjalankoski site utilises two paper machines to produce coated and uncoated book papers, coated magazine paper and improved newsprint. Stora Enso, however, has drawn up a plan to concentrate all book paper production to one line due to low demand for paper and the high cost of production inputs.
Closing one of the two machines is estimated to affect about 110 employees and dent the annual revenue of the site by around 100 million euros. While the closure is presently scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year, no final decisions on the closure or staff cuts will be made until the negotiations have been concluded.
Hannu Kasurinen, the head of packaging materials at Stora Enso, said in a press release that the decline in demand for newsprint and publication paper has accelerated further in the past six months, also reaching the previously more stable book paper market.
“I’m sure that the decline in demand is ultimately the result of digitalisation. At the same time, cost inflation has resulted in our clients – all kinds of publishers and printing houses – determining that it’s smarter to move from print to digital media,” he commented to YLE on Wednesday.
He added that although outlook for the paper industry remains bleak, the packaging board market is continuing to grow.
Jari Punakivi, the chief shop steward at the integrated production site, pointed out to the public broadcasting company that the shutdown plan was announced fairly quickly after the company had scrapped its plan to divest the production unit. Stora Enso in March 2022 revealed that it intends to give up on its paper business, but it abandoned the plan to sell the unit in January 2023.
“They seem to be in a bit of a hurry. Even the snow didn’t have the time to melt before they moved to another phase,” he said.
Punakivi estimated that news of the shutdown plan came as a surprise to at least some of the staff.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT