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Finlandization: Maximum-Security Tikkurila

The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM) promotes cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and free speech.




Tikkurila, which owns two production facilities in Saint Petersburg, is a characteristic example of how a corporate carrot can easily turn into a corporate stick. Built in the late nineties by Finns using Finnish technology, the company’s water-based paints manufacturing plant in St Petersburg (the so-called “old” Tikkurila factory) was long considered an oasis of humane euro-capitalism in the city.

One worker recalls: “In 1997, our salary was 500 dollars a month with an annual 20-30% raise. During the 1998 ruble default, when sales plummeted, Tikkurila made no layoffs, but shortened the workday instead. There was company-paid medical insurance, good working conditions, polite management. In short, we were absolutely satisfied and did not think about organizing a trade union.”

In 2007, when Tikkurila acquired another plant, TEKS, everything changed. For workers at the old plant, it looked like the “gangster-like” TEKS had squashed their peaceful communist oasis. Soon after the merger, management began introducing “lean manufacturing methods.” One senior manager noted with satisfaction that the company saved 35 million rubles as a result of this “breakthrough.”

Show your solidarity with workers at Tikkurila’s factories in St Petersburg by signing the petition addressed to general director Timo Laitala. Please let Tikkurila corporate management know what you think. You can also let FinnWatch, which monitors Finnish companies abroad, know how you feel about Tikkurila’s treatment of its workers in Russia.

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