Tuesday’s papers: Finns in Iraq, fake news and discrimination in the grocery aisle

Finland is not sure what to do about its troops in Iraq, a 4-day workweek catches on and Alepa's racist break room note.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin's comments on improving work-life balance have caught the attention of global media. Image: AFP / Lehtikuva

Finland's media on Tuesday explore the fate of Finnish troops in Iraq, misleading coverage of the Prime Minister's calls for a shorter workweek and discrimination against Finland's Roma minority.

Turbulence in the Middle East is nothing new, but now even Finland is having to weigh up the impact of escalating tensions between Iran and the US.

Finland plans to continue working with Nato-led forces in Iraq, reports Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet (siirryt toiseen palveluun). However on Monday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance, which trains Iraqi soldiers to combat Isis, had suspended training on the ground after the Iraqi Parliament asked foreign troops to leave the country.

Finnish Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen said Finnish forces will remain in Iraq for the time being as any decision to leave the country would require a decision by the Iraqi government, not just Parliament.

On Sunday, Iraq’s Parliament called for all foreign troops to leave the country following US air strikes against Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani.

Finland and Sweden work with a US-led coalition in Iraq known as Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), which aims to coordinate and strengthen international cooperation against Isis. Some 80 Finns are a part of the operation, according to the Finnish Defence Forces.

Shorter workweek exaggerated

Finnish media on Tuesday range across topics including yet more plentiful coverage of Prime Minister Sanna Marin in the international media, but unfortunately most of it was inaccurate.

Before becoming Prime Minister, Marin floated the idea of a six-hour workday. This months-old idea, now exaggerated, is spreading like wildfire, according to Talouselämä (siirryt toiseen palveluun), with international headlines such as "Finland to introduce a four-day working week (siirryt toiseen palveluun)".

In August, Marin said shortening working hours increased productivity by a third at Nokian Tyres in the 1990s.

But Kim Gran, who headed Nokian Tyres from 2000-2014, said Marin was misinformed.

"I don’t know where Marin got these figures. For a short time, in one department, we piloted a new working hour system. Employees didn't like it, so we ended it," he told Talouselämä.

NewsNow Finland has detailed how the fake story spread across international media outlets in "How Finland’s fake four-day week became a "fact' in Europe's media (siirryt toiseen palveluun)."

Roma discrimination

Grocery chain Alepa is making headlines for discriminating against Finland’s ethnic Roma minority.

One of its stores in Vantaa featured a note in the break room advising staff to alert security guards when members of the Roma minority walked through the door, reports Ilta-Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

"When Romas walk in the store, alert the guard immediately. Don’t leave your co-worker alone at the register. If the people in question start 'shopping', then one staffer shadows them while the other stays on the register," the note outlined.

Merja Mustonen, a spokesperson for HOK-Elanto’s Alepa chain, told Ilta-Sanomat that the corporation did not condone the guidelines posted in the break room of the Vantaa Alepa.

"Everyone is welcome here, but we want to make sure that customers and staff can go about their business in peace," she told Ilta-Sanomat.