Friday's papers: Substance abuse behind the wheel, MP questions, dissing Finnish coffee

Finland's print press looks at places with the most DUIs, gov't plans to make it easier to fire people, and people turning up their noses at Finnish java.

Do you enjoy Finnish coffee? Image: Maija-Liisa Juntti / Yle

The paper finds that the northwest coastal city of Kemi has the most offenders in the comparison, which looked at Finnish municipalities with a population over 5,000. Over half of the Kemi residents receiving a DUI conviction were not under the influence of alcohol, but drugs or other substances. This bucks the overall trend in Finland, whereby two times more DUIs are issued for driving under the influence of alcohol than other intoxicants.

Local police tell HS that the statistics can be traced to a small group of drug users in Kemi who don't care if they are caught. Kemi police inspector Miska Sillanpää says that it is not uncommon there for the same person to be pulled over three times a day.

After Kemi on the list come the municipalities of Jämsä, Orivesi and Forssa in south-central Finland and Haapavesi in the northwest. In general, smaller Finnish municipalities beat out larger ones in the analysis, with no cities over 100,000 included in the list's top 20. The HS analysis places Helsinki at number 112.

Helsinki's chief inspector in charge of traffic monitoring Jarkko Lehtinen tells the paper that DUI statistics often say more about police work than the real situation on the road. Earlier in the decade, police in the capital city region conducted 92,000 breathalyser tests on motorists. This number fell to close to 70,000 mid-decade, but Lehtinen says the force is set to break the 100,000 ceiling this year.

Easier to fire = easier to hire?

The Tampere-based newspaper Aamulehti reports on the first question time in the Finnish Parliament (siirryt toiseen palveluun), which is now back in session after summer holidays. Question time is a regular forum for MPs to make enquiries of the ruling government, providing an opportunity for the opposition to grill ministers about controversial measures.

AL says the session's first question time largely circled around the cabinet's proposal to make it easier for small companies with fewer than 20 employees to fire workers for "personal" reasons, such as negligence or inappropriate behaviour. The government maintains that the plan would encourage smaller firms to hire more people, and therefore improve employment figures.

Opposition MPs asked Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and Employment Minister Jari Lindström why such a legislative change is necessary. Former labour union bigwig, Social Democrat MP Lauri Ihalainen was well prepared with a list of alternative methods that he said would enhance employment without making jobs less secure. His fellow SDP MP Tarja Filatov claimed there's tenuous cause-effect relationship at play, but Minister Lindström responded that many companies have promised to hire new people more readily as soon as the reform is passed.

Left Alliance MP Li Andersson wondered if the government had sufficiently considered the ramifications of its proposal, stating that new employees may not feel comfortable reporting harassment, for example, if they know their job is on the line. Finns Party MP Leena Meri also asked whether people will start to be let go for having the wrong opinion, for example.

Finland already has a several-month trial period for new employees, some MPs argued, which gives employers ample opportunity to judge if an employee is suitable before taking them on permanently.

Minister Lindström says that if the new proposal is made into law, workers would only be let go if guidelines are seriously violated. Greens MP Heli Järvinen said the government has work to do to define what constitutes this kind of "serious violation".

Shunning Finland's beloved coffee

And the Oulu-based Kaleva newspaper closes out the review week with a story entitled "Why don't foreign visitors like Finnish coffee?" (siirryt toiseen palveluun)

French President Emmanuel Macron's apparent dislike for the Market Square coffee he was served recently made waves in Finland, and Monaco's Prince Albert seemed to confirm this when he left a coffee he was offered during his recent visit to Oulu untouched.

In 2014 the International Coffee Organisation determined that Finland was the world leader when it came to coffee consumption, and Kaleva reports this Friday that the Finns drink an astounding 10 kilos of coffee per person each year. Over 80 percent of the coffee that Finns drink is an aromatic light-roast variety, with filtered coffee reigning supreme.

The paper asks Marleena Tanhuanpää, head of the Finnish Food and Drink Industries' Federation to comment.

"We should be proud of our way of enjoying and drinking coffee. We have an extremely strong coffee culture […] Finns, if anyone, should have the cheek to talk about coffee because we drink so much of it and it belongs to our food culture. Coffee is a part of our everyday life and our celebrations. Finland's imports the highest-quality raw ingredients, which are used to roast our coffee," she says.

Petri Nieminen, a Finnish author of books on coffee and coffee entrepreneur tells the paper that the definition of good and bad coffee is subjective, and while Finnish coffee culture has steeped and honoured traditions, there is still something that Finns could learn.

"Even though the quality of the coffee in Finland is on the same level or even better, our operative culture isn't as good. In the cafes and restaurants of Italy and France, they take extreme care with what they do."