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Thursday’s papers: Wall to wall Microsoft, Talvivaara shutdown not a slam dunk

Thursday’s print dailies devote extensive real estate to dissecting the decision by software giant Microsoft to shed more than 1,300 jobs in Finland, particularly the impact on the cities most affected by the job cuts. Papers also note that the government’s call to pull the plug on publicly-funded life support for the troubled Talvivaara mining operation isn't necessarily the start of the mine's final chapter.

Microsoftin työntekijöitä Metro-Areenalla Espoossa keskiviikkona.
Microsoftin työntekijöitä Metro-Areenalla Espoossa keskiviikkona. Image: Petteri Paalasmaa / AOP

Leading circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat’s printed paper leads with coverage of what it calls Microsoft’s "terminal care" programme for its failing phone business. HS writes that the decision to effectively terminate phone operations did not come as a surprise, and noted that the phone business had been in trouble for a long time - almost since Nokia offloaded the division for 5.4 billion euros just two years ago.

The paper points out that Microsoft had been trimming thousands of workers from the payroll since it acquired the phone business. In 2014 the company let go 1,050 former Nokia employees located in Salo and Oulu and shuttered the Oulu product development unit. It followed that up last year by announcing a decision to another axe 2,300 jobs in Salo, Tampere and Espoo. At that time another product development unit closed its doors forever – this time in Salo.

This time around, the 1,350 jobs to be red-lined will mostly be in Tampere and Espoo. The paper quotes city leaders from Espoo as saying that Wednesday’s announcement was the latest in a series of bad news for the municipality.

"We now have to do everything possible to ensure that this expertise stays here," said municipal chief Jukka Mäkelä.

Tampere officials optimistic about Microsoft alumni job prospects

Meanwhile Tampere-based Aamulehti reports that the Tampere region is reeling from the seasonal job cuts. It notes that last Friday, networks company Nokia announced it would reduce headcount by 250 in Tampere alone, so Wednesday’s announcement by Microsoft comes as a double-whammy for the area.

However city leaders told the paper that they are optimistic that workers won’t have to sit at home for too long. Several software and technology companies have been taking advantage of the situation and local firms have so far hired more than 700 people this year, AL writes.

It mentions firms such as Solita, Vincit, M-Files, Gofore and Leanware as the main recruiters. Even companies that are not traditionally associated with IT have been hiring tech workers as they try to beat the competition by providing digital services and exploring new IT-driven business areas.

TS: Salo still hurting from Nokia job cuts

Coming off the press in southwest Finland, Turun Sanomat also probes the wounds left by mass payroll cuts in Salo, formerly an important location for Nokia in its phonemaker days.

TS writes that when Microsoft also decided to put to rest product development in Salo last year, just under 300 of roughly 1,000 workers kept their jobs. Microsoft shuttled the remaining employees to and from work in Espoo. They are now waiting to hear how many of them – if any at all – will be getting on the bus for the daily commute.

Talvivaara closure by no means a done deal

Along with other dailies, Turun Sanomat also unpicks the government’s announcement Wednesday that it had decided on a "controlled winding down" of the Sotkamo nickel mine owned by state-owned Terrafame, but formerly part of the Talvivaara mining group.

The paper reports that the government is to plough another 144 million euros into the operation on top of the hundreds of taxpayers millions already spent keeping it on life support. Economy Minister Olli Rehn said that the money will keep the mine afloat until the end of this year and into 2017, thereby guaranteeing jobs for around 1,000 workers - at least until the money lasts.

At the same time, the state will continue its search for a new private sector owner for the mine, or at least an investor willing to shell out to keep operations up and running. In the event that such investors do materialise, government will scuttle plans to close down the eastern Finland mine.

According to TS, 2017 budgetary allocations for Talvivaara will be discussed during the autumn. Only then will government make a final decision on either funding the winding down, or forking out to keep the mine running.

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