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Monday's papers: Bank strike averted, metal workers scarce, most pastors for gay marriage

A long-standing finance sector settlement, the metal industry's worker shortage and a Lutheran pastor poll are the topics of this Monday's review of domestic dailies.

Koukkuja metallitehtaalla.
Metal bosses say the government should train more domestic workers. Image: Yle

Industrial disputes are often touch-and-go, but top circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat today reports on a certain financial fracas finally being settled.

Bank workers and top brass had been in talks over working conditions since last December, but national conciliator Minna Helle finally broke the news of a compromise on Sunday evening. The agreement also means that bank employees will not be striking today.

The biggest point of contention, HS reports, was over weekend work and accompanying pay. Employers first gunned for only volunteers under local agreements to be allowed to work Saturdays and Sundays, while employees themselves held fast to their demand to be able to serve customers at more convenient times.

"The negotiations resulted in some limitations to employers' total management rights in weekend work. Both local banks and company-wide policies will regulate weekend shifts," HS quotes financial chief Antti Hakala from trade union Pro.

In the end workers got their way. Interest group Finance Finland's CEO Piia-Noora Kauppi tweeted that the changed working hours policy is a "significant step".

The move means that while mainly volunteers will work weekends, in the event that not enough are available banks can then name other employees to come in. Saturday work pays 50 percent more, Sunday work is double.

HS writes that the new and hard-won agreement is binding for three years, and includes two standard pay rises as well as a third locally managed round of raises.

Metal workers shipped in

In other industry news, Finnish metal manufacturing is looking at a severe shortage of domestic workers, meaning that increasingly many employees come from abroad. The situation is worrying for many in the sector, as local daily Aamulehti recounts.

"Last year we hired 280 workers at one of our factories, and 40-50 of them were foreign," CEO Lasse Orre from track manufacturer Transtech says.

The rub seems to be that metal industry bosses feel that the government has failed domestic workers, and that policies of activation or hiring from abroad cannot fix the problems of the shortage.

"Hiring people from elsewhere and attempts to "activate" the unemployed are not enough," Industrial Union tech sector chief Jyrki Virtanen says in AL. "There is clearly a need for better training and education for able workers on benefits. You can learn to be a welder in just six months."

Lobby conglomerate Technology Industries of Finland says it is working on a report for May on how best to tackle the worker shortage.

Same-sex marriage OK for half of pastors

From earthly business interests to matters of the soul, tabloid Iltalehti writes that many Evangelical Lutheran pastors have recently softened their position on allowing gay couples to be married in church.

The paper reports on a new study from the University of Eastern Finland that shows that 51 percent of pastors now say they are in favour of same-sex marriage. That figure was just 35 percent in 2014.

The study by researcher Laura Kallatsa also shows that 56 percent of the total 534 responding pastors said they would officiate a same-sex marriage ceremony if decreed by the church.

That still isn't to say that the church doesn't consider homosexuality a sin or that gay marriage doesn't have its clerical detractors, who often cite scripture to claim that God created men and women to be in heterosexual monogamous relationships. For more open-minded pastors, the Bible can also be used to defend unions of love.

"Pastors are also defenders of human rights," says researcher Kallatsa in the IL piece. "Many feel that refusing to marry a gay couple would be indefensible discrimination."

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