Skip to content

Tuesday's papers: Nurses' row resolved, Nato nuisances and Swedish in schools

An ongoing dispute in the healthcare sector came to an end when nurses' union and employers' organisations came to an agreement.

Tehy union boss Millariikka Rytkönen walked away with a new salary agreement yesterday after months of negotiations. Image: Lehtikuva

Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) covered the resolution of a long-running dispute over nurses' salaries, announced by the national mediator Anu Sajavaara on Monday evening.

The industrial action will end immediately, and the nurses will stop preparing for mass resignations.

"The structure here is such that it has been agreed how and on what timetable the coordination of salaries in the new welfare areas and the development of the pay system will be carried out," Sajavaara explained.

In addition, a separate one-off bonus of 600 euros will be paid next March to nurses who have treated Covid-19 patients.

At the heart of the long pay dispute was the demand by the nurses' unions for an extra 3.6 percent pay rise each year on top of a so-called across-the-board pay hike. The employers' side said the demand was too costly and unrealistic for taxpayers.

According to nurses' unions Tehy and Super, the settlement proposal will raise the average salary by at least 17.3 percent on average over five years, with an increase of 15.3 percent in the first three years.

According to a press release from the employers' organisation KT, the now-approved settlement proposal and the municipal agreement reached earlier in the summer are estimated to increase the earnings of staff covered by the social services, or Sote, agreement by at least 13 percent on average between 2022 and 2025.

Would you like a roundup of the week's top stories in your inbox every Thursday? Then sign up to receive our weekly email!

Last Nato holdouts

Two countries rhave still yet to approve Finland's bid for Nato membership—Turkey and Hungary.

Turkey's gripes with the Nordic countries were spelled out earlier this year, but were seemingly resolved at a Madrid summit in June in which Finland and Sweden agreed to address Ankara's concerns.

Now, Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun) has written that Mika Aaltola, head of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs (FIIA), believes that there could be a situation in which Turkey votes Finland into the alliance, but refuses to do so for Sweden.

In his view, the US has been negotiating with Turkey behind the scenes this whole time in order to get the two Nordic countries into Nato.

In Budapest, Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun) wrote that a vote for the admission of Finland and Sweden was blocked by Hungarian Prime Minister Vitkor Orbán's party in parliament.

In response to the Hungarian socialist party's proposal to vote for Nato membership on Tuesday, Hungary's ruling Fidesz party—the party of Orbán—provided a resounding thumbs down with parliament voting 117 to 39.

Hungary could even wait until Turkey comes to a decision on the matter prior to making one themselves, according to researcher Katalin Miklóssy at the Aleksanteri Institute.

"Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said in May that he was not convinced that Finland and Sweden should join Nato and that Turkey's views should be taken into account. Hungary does not have a strong desire to promote Nato ratification," she said.

A better way to teach Swedish?

Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun) covered the reaction to its editor-in-chief Erja Yläjärvi suggesting a reform to mandatory Swedish in schools.

Yläjärvi argued that Swedish instruction should be made more engaging and approached with a more laissez-faire attitude, possibly even a pass-fail grading system, emphasising that new ideas are needed to make Swedish more attractive in schools.

Christina Gestrin, Secretary General at The Swedish Assembly of Finland, also known as Folktinget, was not particularly convinced that motivation would be boosted by such a change. In her view, she believes that students put in more effort when they need to put in more effort. However, her primary argument is rooted in law.

"I can't imagine that our national languages would be treated differently. I don't think there's any reason to relax the teaching of Swedish in Finnish schools," she told HBL.

Gestrin said that she believes it would be backward to accommodate the opinion of the Finns Party, who have called for the end of mandatory Swedish in schools.

"At the moment, I think it would send the wrong signal to make Swedish an exception. There are many other school subjects that are also compulsory and that are also graded,' she said.

Mikko Ollikainen (SPP) of the Parliamentary Committee on Culture has a similar opinion. He likes Yläjärvi's proposal to the extent that it wants to create a positive attitude towards language learning.

In his previous job as a teacher, Ollikainen himself worked for "fun Finnish" in a Swedish school, as Finnish is not very popular in the Swedish-speaking part of Ostrobothnia.

"I'm not categorically saying no. Possibly this could be an option in a broader context, but it cannot apply only to Swedish. We also need to look at other subjects if we review the grading bases. Swedish in Finnish schools should not have a free pass," he clarified to HBL.

Ollikainen noted that Finland's Pisa results have been declining for some time and that education may need to be addressed. In that case, a grading reform could possibly be part of a broader package, but it should apply in all schools, regardless of subject.

"After all, we go for grades earlier in school in Finland than they do in Sweden. You have to evaluate what is better," he pointed out.

Latest: paketissa on 10 artikkelia