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Tuesday's papers: Food prices, refugee centre fire, final labour offer gone

Among the items found in the morning press are a comparison of supermarket food prices, reports of an overnight fire at the door of a refugee reception centre, and the withdrawal of the last union confederation proposal to avoid forced pay cuts.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

The country's largest circulation daily, Helsingin Sanomat, today published the results of a survey of food prices and a comparison of prices at a range of supermarkets.

Using a shopping basket of 30 items at six large or medium-sized retail outlets in the capital region, the paper found the total tab was less than six months ago in June only at the Lidl store surveyed.

A comparison made in June showed that the same basket of food was cheaper than in February at all the stores included.

Some of the higher prices in this December survey can be attributed to seasonal fluctuations. Domestically-grown vegetables, for example, are less expensive during the summer months.

Helsingin Sanomat provides readers with charts comparing the prices of various items at the different supermarkets surveyed.  It also points out that competition for market shares by retail chains is likely to heat up even more after a recent deal in which Kesko acquired the Siwa and Valintatalo chains.

Another fire

A number of papers, including the newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, carry reports of a fire late last night at the Kaivanto refugee reception centre in Kangasala, east of Tampere.

According to reports, a passerby called emergency services after noticing a pile of clothing ablaze just outside the centre's main entrance.

Firefighters said that no one was injured, nor was an evacuation necessary, but there was a danger that the blaze could have spread from flames that reached up to two metres.

Police are now investigating the cause of the fire. An emergency service official noted that the fire started at a place where residents smoke.

The Red Cross operated facility houses around 200 asylum seekers. In November three Finns beat and knifed an Iraqi man outside the same centre.

Labour warning

The Rovaniemi-based Lapin Kansa was among the papers that reported on what is likely the final nail in the coffin of efforts to avoid government plans for legislated pay cuts.

The final compromise offer to employers by the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions SAK ran out on Monday, and SAK chair Lauri Lyly told the media that any initiative to resume negotiations will be up to the EK employers' grouping and the government.

The government plans to cut labour costs by five percent with a series of legislative measures, including reductions in pay for overtime, sick leave, Sunday hours and certain public holidays.

Lyly warned that these measures will adversely affect next autumn's round of contract negotiations, and that unions will take the impact of this legislation into account when setting targets in the next contract talks.

Negotiations on what was termed a "social contract" to improve economic productivity ran aground last week when the employers' EK turned down labour proposals after the Transport Workers Union decided to opt out of the process.

Making really sure

According to an account in Iltalehti, Merja, a 52 year-old resident of Helsinki, at first thought she was on a candid camera show when the cashier at the checkout counter at the S-Market in Maunula demanded to see her ID before selling her three bottles of mildly alcoholic cider last week.

But, when she was unable to produce prove of her age, the cashier removed the cider from the counter and was adamant that she couldn't buy it.

Merja told Iltalehti that she was shocked, and that it wasn't because she doesn't look 18, "I look my age."

She marched home, got her passport to prove she is old enough to buy alcohol. Rather than taking it as a complement, Merja felt insulted and has decided not to shop at the supermarket ever again.

Interviewed about the incident by the paper, the chain director for HOK-Elanto’s S-Markets, Kim Nikula, said that the general rule is that IDs are requested from anyone who looks under the age of 30.

"Some outlets want to make really sure and may temporarily raise that to checking the IDs of anyone who looks under 50."

While, according to Nikula, this is not common practice, it does happen.

"It is possible that an outlet wants to send out a pointed signal, and an especially strong reminder, that there will be no underage sales," he told Iltalehti.

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