Thursday's papers: Finland's gender pay gap, our duty to help, and cheaper microbreweries

Today's papers cover a working woman's 83 cents to a man's euro, the legal obligation to provide assistance to accident victims, and cheaper beer.

Photo from Helsinki's Stadin Panimo microbrewery Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat looks this Thursday into the issue of equal pay for equal work (siirryt toiseen palveluun). In the supposed wonderland of gender equality that is Finland, women still receive 83 cents for every male euro, HS writes. The paper says that main reason for this is that the labour markets have compartmentalised most occupations by sex: there are men's jobs and there are women's jobs.

Almost without exception "men's jobs" are paid better than "women's jobs" in Finland. A man who drives an industrial machine receives 800 euros more per month than a nurse who has required the same amount of training to do her job. Cleaners receive 500 euros less monthly than waste management workers.

As recently as 1962, there were two different pay scales used for women and men in Finland. For people working in the same field, female employees received 70 percent of what the men were receiving.

Paul Koskinen Sandberg, a labour market policy researcher at Tampere University, tells the paper that the idea that there is "a suitable salary level for sectors that are dominated by women" is still visible in Finland's remuneration for care work. Oftentimes assumptions are made about a woman's "lighter" financial responsibility for bringing in a household income, women's natural suitability for certain occupations like care giving, the "lack of skills" that certain lines of work require, and of course, that women are "called to do" low-paid work out of a sense of dedication or altruism.

Finnish law requires equal pay for equal work, but Statistics Finland figures clearly show that men earn more than women in practically every kind of job.

Antti Kauhanen from the Research Institute of the Finnish Economy (ETLA) says that one reason for this is that men tend to put in more hours than women, as women still carry the larger burden for caring for the home and children. He tells HS that reform of Finland's parental leave policies to split childcare evenly between both spouses would be the best way to tackle the pay gaps.

The paper finishes by suggesting that sometimes legislation can be the answer: it says that a new law came into effect in Iceland this year that fines companies with unequal salary policies.

We all have a legal obligation to provide assistance

Pori resident Johanna Koskiranta wrote in to IL to say that her family's car hit a deer Sunday evening, and not a single passing car stopped to help. She says no one was injured, and despite being very shaken up, they were able to call emergency services themselves. But what if they had been badly injured or knocked unconscious, she asked, how long would they have had to wait?

Tuija Rytkölä of the Finnish Red Cross reminds people that Finnish traffic laws say that it is everyone's responsibility to provide assistance to people who have been in accidents. Laws on rescue services also require passerby to help people who may be in mortal danger by calling 112. Failure to do so could result in a fine or a prison sentence.

"The least that people can do is stop and ask if help is required," she says.

Rytkölä says she has discussed what seems like an increasing unwillingness among people to help in Finland with participants in the first aid training courses she runs. Among them, they have surmised that people tell themselves they are too busy to help, or don't dare to interfere in the business of others. Others may feel that they are incapable of acting under pressure or would be of no help for other reasons.

Rytkölä reminds IL readers to download the "112 suomi" app on their phones. A call made to the app in an emergency immediately sends the exact location to rescue services, so they can be there as soon as possible to help.

Cheaper craft beers at the source

And the local Vantaan Sanomat newspaper features a report on microbreweries in Finland (siirryt toiseen palveluun). Now that Finnish legislation has finally allowed independent beer makers to start selling their products to the public from their brewery locations, the small business owners want to get the word out: It is actually considerably cheaper to buy specialty beers straight from their shops.

For example, the Bryggeri microbrewery near Senate Square in Helsinki sells its wares for a third of the price a consumer would pay in a restaurant or bar. Prices are considerably cheaper for the products than in the state alcohol retailer Alko, too.

"For a 0.33-litre bottle of our strongest beer, the price difference with Alko is between 1.5 and 2 euros," adds Olli Majanen of the Rakuuna Beer Company.

Fat Lizard, a brewery in Espoo's Otaniemi says its shop, which is only open on Fridays for the time being, sells its products at two-thirds of the Alko price.

"A 0.75-litre bottle of our beer costs 15 euros at Alko and 10 euros straight from the brewery," says the firm's sales director Eero Kukko.

Rakuuna's Majanen says the price difference can be explained by logistics. "We make the beer just 20 metres from here; we don't need to ship it anywhere," he says.

Stadin Panimo in Helsinki's Suvilahti says several dozen customers visit its shop every day. The cheaper prices aren't the only draw, says the microbrewery's sales director Ingrid Viertola.

"Our beer has usually been bottled the very same day that we put it on the shelf."