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Minister to probe Posti executives' golf privileges

The state postal firm sold three membership shares in a posh Espoo golf club to buy one at Finland's priciest club.

 Kunta- ja omistajaohjausministeri Sirpa Paatero vastausvuorossa eduskunnan kyselytunnilla 5. syyskuuta.
Sirpa Paatero took over as Minister of Ownership Steering three months ago. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

The minister in charge of overseeing state-owned companies, Sirpa Paatero, says she will look into Posti management's golf club membership shares.

The tabloid Iltalehti revealed that in 2015, the state postal firm spent nearly 30,000 euros on a membership stake in the tony Sarfvik Golf Club in Kirkkonummi, some 20 km west of Helsinki.

According to the paper, the purchase of a membership card for Finland's most expensive golf club was proposed by Posti CEO Heikki Malinen. He has been under fire in recent weeks over his generous remuneration in a time when the company is trying to slash jobs and wages.

The paper reports that the country club expenditure caused consternation within Posti, as it came just when the firm was launching redundancy talks that led to more than 300 employees losing their jobs.

"It doesn't sound very good"

"One has to admit that it doesn't sound very good," Paatero said on Friday in Parliament.

Paatero questioned spending on golf fees while simultaneously carrying on tough co-determination negotiations and job cuts. She said that she would not be able to analyse management golf benefits on Friday, but that they would be included in an overall re-evaluation of executive remuneration at the state-owned firm.

"It's essential that I get information and ask the company what this is all about," she said.

Posti's revenue has slumped in recent years as many consumers opt for electronic versions instead of having letters and newspapers delivered to their mailboxes, and it faces more competition for package deliveries.

On Tuesday, Paatero announced that after talks with Posti, it agreed to reconsider management salaries, bonuses and benefits, and to suspend a plan to force some workers to accept much weaker working contracts. The postal union, which estimated that would have cut their wages by 30-50 percent, then agreed to cut short a strike.

3 shares at posh Espoo club

According to Iltalehti, Posti previously owned three membership shares in another prestigious golf club, Master Golf on Lake Bodom in northern Espoo. However the firm sold these when it bought the Sarfvik share. Posti told the paper that it sold the Master Golf shares because it was difficult to reserve tee times at the venue.

Paatero, a long-time parliamentarian from Prime Minister Antti Rinne's Social Democratic Party, took over as Minister of Local Government and Ownership Steering in June. This week she also announced changes to the board of directors of the state-owned gambling agency Veikkaus amid claims that it has failed to tackle problem gambling.

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