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Wednesday's papers: Union worries, foreign graduate employment and a €121,000 speeding fine

Speeding fines in Finland are linked to income, and can therefore be pretty large.

Åland businessman Anders Wiklöf in a blue blazer with pink shirt and pocket square, wearing sunglasses, in the sunshine outside the Åland parliament building.
Anders Wiklöf. Image: Bengt Östling / Yle
Yle News

Helsingin Sanomat carries an editorial on the ongoing government formation talks at the House of the Estates, and their likely impact on trade unions.

HS says that the four right-wing parties engaged in coalition talks have some big disagreements, primarily on immigration and climate change, but there is a consensus on labour market reforms.

Finland's generous income-linked unemployment benefits face a shakeup, according to HS, with payments set to be tapered. That means they will be higher at the start of a stretch of unemployment, but reduce over time as the two-year-eligibility period expires.

The National Coalition Party also wants to eliminate the tax deduction for trade union membership fees, effectively making membership of trade unions more expensive.

HS suggests that the intention is to push union members to join YTK, a fund that offers eligibility for unemployment benefits but does not negotiate pay rises for members or offer many of the other services that come with union membership.

That would weaken the trade unions' voice in society, says HS, likely prompting protests and a vote for the left in the next parliamentary elections — thereby increasing polarisation and features of a two-party system in Finland.

That said, HS warns that a new government is still some way off, and even if it is formed it might not last the distance due to dissent among the ranks of government parties.

Foreign students seeking work

Kauppalehti reports on a hot topic: foreign graduates looking for work. The paper focuses on those from India, interviewing two students hoping to stay in Finland after they finish their degrees.

India has a surplus of workers, says KL, meaning the government there is very happy for young people — even highly educated people — to seek higher incomes and a better life abroad.

The Indians interviewed for the story say they love Finland. India's pollution, corruption and "difficult atmosphere" weigh heavily on their minds, and they love the Finns' peaceful nature and the quality of life obtainable in Finland.

Back in India, one is a university teacher and the other manages a factory. But they are not so optimistic that they expect to find work in their fields in Finland.

One studying business administration says she'll do any work anywhere in the Nordic country, while the factory manager says he is considering driving a truck because he has the licence and it does not require Finnish language skills.

The stats are against them. Finland ranks fourth in the European Union for graduate employment, among graduates from outside the European Economic Area. But that still means only 13 percent of graduates from outside Europe get a job.

KL says that the job search is different in Finland.

"In India jobs are found through networks, but in Finland jobs are generally filled via application processes and according to [candidates'] merits," said KL.

That may come as a surprise to researchers who found recruiters discriminated extensively against those with foreign names.

Speeding fine

Ilta-Sanomat has a classic Finnish story: the quirky news report picked up internationally and then reported through the prism of the foreign news desk interpretations.

Anders Wiklöf, a shipping magnate from Åland, has received a humongous fine for speeding. He was clocked at 82 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, and was fined 121,000 euros.

That's because Finland has a system of income-linked fines for some offences, and Wiklöf's income is pretty high.

The penalty sounds pretty tough to foreign ears, however, and IS notes that the story was covered by The Guardian, the Daily Mail, ABC News and even AS, in Spanish.

The tabloid neglects to credit the original source, however. That appears to be the Aland outlet Nya Åland, which reported the fine two days ago.

Wiklöf had told the paper that he regretted the fine, and had just not slowed down enough when the speed limit changed. He did have a request for those handling his contribution to public coffers, though, suggesting that he has followed government formation talks closer than some.

"I have heard that they are planning to cut 1.5 billion euros from healthcare spending in Finland, so I hope my contribution can fill a gap there," Wiklöf told Nya Åland. "Ideally I'd like it to be earmarked for that purpose."

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