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Wednesday's papers: NCP leads poll, supermarkets reveal summer pay, is winter ending?

Tens of thousands of often-young workers will be hired to work in Finland's retail sector this summer, with many headed to supermarkets.

Newspaper Iltalehti queried the country's three major supermarket chains, S-Group, K-Group and Lidl, how much they planned to offer them this summer. Image: Jarkko Riikonen / Yle

The conservative National Coalition Party (NCP) has topped a voter poll just days ahead of Finland's county council elections, according to daily Helsingin Sanomat.

The NCP received the support of 20.7 percent of respondents, with Prime Minister Sanna Marin's Social Democratic Party (SDP) trailing at 19 percent and the Centre Party with 16.7 percent support.

The paper said (siirryt toiseen palveluun) the situation was quite similar to that of last year's municipal elections, if Helsinki voters were to be excluded — as the capital city is not taking part in the county council elections. Here is a handy guide that, among other things, explains why.

Forty five percent of the survey respondents could not, or did not, want to say which party they were planning to vote for, or said they didn't plan to vote at all. That figure was higher than in the June municipal elections, according to the paper.

When the poll was carried out, 52 percent of respondents said they had already voted or were certain that they would.

Sakari Nurmela, the research director of polling firm Kantar TNS told the paper he reckoned that voter turnout in Sunday's vote would likely fall somewhere between the last municipal elections (55.1%) and the European Parliament elections (42.7%).

What do summer retail workers earn?

Tens of thousands of often-young workers will be hired to work in Finland's retail sector this summer, with many headed to supermarkets.

Newspaper Iltalehti queried (siirryt toiseen palveluun) the country's three major supermarket chains, S-Group, K-Group and Lidl, to find out how much they planned to pay them this summer.

Finland's two homegrown retailers, S- and K- Groups, said they planned to follow the trade sectors' collective agreement, including guidelines on extra amounts paid for work in the evening and on Saturdays.

Meanwhile, Lidl, which has global headquarters in Germany, pays a bit more.

Lidl's recruitment manager, Tiia Willman, told the paper that the company pays summer employees bonuses of between 1.5 and 10 percent of the sector's collective agreement pay level to workers on the retail side and 11 to 18 percent extra to people working in the logistics end of the business.

Ilona Castren, in charge of K-Group's recruitment, said that while collective agreements guide their pay scheme, independent store operators have the discretion to pay more.

First-time retail employees need to work in the sector for one year as a trainee at 85 percent of the base pay that is spelled out in the collective agreement, according to the paper.

Hourly pay in the Helsinki Metropolitan area is 11.71 euros per hour and elsewhere 11.23 euros per hour. Under those base standards, trainees can expect to earn 9.90 euros per hour in the capital area and 9.50 euros per hour in other parts of Finland.

All of the retailers said that a workers' experience can also result in a pay bump. Wages can also be affected by the type of work involved, an employee's training as well as location of the job.

Is winter nearly over?

Foreca meteorologist Markus Mäntykannas said that Finland's traditionally cold weather this time of year will be interrupted by milder temperatures and breezy conditions caused by the so-called Föhn winds, according to newspaper Ilta-Sanomat.

About a week ago, the cold weather took a brief, but dramatic turn, as the Föhn phenomenon suddenly raised temperatures across the country.

Finland's weather will be clearly warmer than average in the near future, according to a monthly forecast from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) published on Monday, the paper reported (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

In a Foreca blog post, Mäntykannas said that the conditions will not likely create the opportunity for extensive cold periods this winter, adding that the year's chillier intervals may be very brief in duration.

He added that the countdown to spring has already begun, particularly in southern and western parts of the country.

"Based on this monthly forecast, it seems that the coldest moments of winter are behind us," Mäntykannas wrote, according to the paper.

Finland's coldest temperature recorded so far this winter was in the second week of the year, when the mercury dropped to -35.7 degrees Celsius in Lapland's municipality of Enontekiö.