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Friday’s papers: Labour protest and transit strike, inauguration and Olympic snow delays

Finland’s newspapers focus on domestic issues such as a large labour rally in Helsinki and accompanying transport disruptions.

Ihmiset näyttävät pysäyttämismerkki tuleville busseille.
Image: Kimmo Hiltunen / Yle

The Tampere daily Aamulehti points out that a major political strike and demonstration called on Friday by the main labour federation SAK is affecting other parts of the country, not just the capital region. For instance, most buses are not running in Tampere on Friday either, although the biggest impact is being felt in the heavily-populated Helsinki region. Some 60 percent of long-distance coaches are expected to operate.

AL provides an overview of the labour federation’s day of protest against the government’s “active model,” which threatens unemployed people with cuts in benefits unless they can prove they are actively seeking work. The law took effect at the beginning of the year, and the government is now planning follow-on legislation.

The SAK is organising a demonstration at Senate Square beginning at 11 am and expected to end by 12.30. Besides speakers and music from Vuokko Hovatta of Ultra Bra, attendees will be offered free coffee and pea soup.

Some unions, including the AKT transport union, the Industrial Union and the Construction Union, are staging strikes to support the event. AKT local and long-distance bus drivers will stay off the job until 6 pm. In Helsinki, tram and metro staff who are members of the Trade Union for the Public and Welfare Sectors (JHL) are also joining the political strike.

AL notes that more than 20 buses are carrying SAK members from the Tampere region to take part in the rally, while other people are arranging their own transport.

Kaleva: Local focus

Kaleva, based in the north-central city of Oulu, makes little note of the SAK protest or of President Sauli Niinistö’s inauguration for a second term on Thursday.

Instead it focuses on local traffic accidents amid snowy conditions, ice hockey results, and the National Bureau of Investigation launching a probe into suspected securities fraud linked to the Nokian Tyres’ test manipulation scandal. In 2016 the company admitted that it had manipulated test results to ensure that its products received top scores by reviewers.

Kaleva also carries a smattering of international headlines, such as a fiery van crash in Shanghai and the rescue of nearly 1,000 miners from a South African goldmine.

IS: Electoral and lottery wins

The bestselling tabloid Ilta-Sanomat devotes most of its front page to Niinistö’s inauguration. The main headline suggests that Prime Minister Juha Sipilä figuratively slapped the president’s wrist in his own speech at the event.

The premier pointed out that the president had earned a strong mandate from the public through his sweeping election victory but that “despite this, managing domestic policy is not part of the president’s [role]...the main responsibility is with Parliament and the government,” Sipilä noted, adding: “This constitutional division of labour works well and ensures that the president can concentrate on his main task, leading foreign policy,” Sipilä asserted.

Meanwhile a sidebar notes that Niinistö’s predecessor, former president Tarja Halonen, exchanged a public thumbs-up with Niinistö’s wife Jenni Haukio, who is due to give birth to her first child soon.

Also on its front page, Ilta-Sanomat notes that perennial candidate Paavo Väyrynen, is now seeking to challenge Sipilä as chair of the governing Centre Party. At 71, former minister Väyrynen is fresh off his fourth failed presidential bid.

IS also carries headlines about a 46-million-euro lottery jackpot winner who tells the paper he has “replaced just about everything except [his] wife” and Finnish athletes’ arrival in South Korea for next week’s Winter Olympics being delayed – naturally – by snow.

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