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Monday's papers: Class conflict, masks and poor families

Domestic media outlets on Monday explore how the virus is affecting all facets of Finnish society.

Rekeillä käytettyjä lastenvaatteita. Etualalla Pippi-paita.
Children's charity Hope says the number of families seeking assistance has skyrocketed as summer draws to a close. Image: Yle / Niklas Mäkinen

A war of words between the government and opposition erupted after Prime Minister Sanna Marin over the weekend criticised forest products giant UPM's decision to close a profitable paper mill in central Finland, reports newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat.

On Monday morning, Marin took to Twitter to say she had spent time with her family over the weekend and hadn't followed social media, but she was surprised at the tone of debate about the issue.

"It says something about our culture when questioning the societal impact of a company's actions in these times ignites this level of rage and accusation," she wrote, responding to a weekend of fevered debate about whether the government was friendly enough to multi-national companies.

MP Paula Risikko (NCP) tweeted, "Why are you whipping up class conflict, PM Marin?" suggesting that government policies have not made Finland an attractive investment target for international firms.

IS also reports business lobbies criticising Marin’s comments, saying they were not helpful in encouraging companies in an economy plagued by coronavirus.

However, Marin also received support, including from MP Tarja Filatov, tweeting "Dear National Coalition Party, Marin didn’t close the factory. A corporate culture where nothing’s ever enough did."

UPM made a profit of 1.4 billion euros last year, sharply raising its dividends to shareholders. It has suspended building work on a plant in Uruguay due to coronavirus, after the government there agreed to spend billions on a new railway and a deep-water port for the company to use.

Families hope for winter gear

Minka Pietiläinen of Hope, a national children’s charity network, told Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet it had received a record number of aid applications from families since reopening after the summer.

"In five days one thousand families filled applications on our website," Pietiläinen told HBL.

She said most parents asking for help had lost their jobs or businesses in the past six months. The organisation has been calling for toy donations in addition to warm winter clothing.

"Hope is the only place where some families can get dolls, cars or blocks," Pietiläinen told HBL.

Mask prices down

The price and availability of disposable face masks in Finland has improved, reports national daily Helsingin Sanomat.

Some shops ran out of face masks when national health agency THL on 13 August issued its face mask recommendation. Since then, new suppliers have entered the market.

Mask prices have come down gradually in S-Group stores, where a package of 50 disposable masks initially retailed for 59.90 euros, then just under 40 and now selling for 19.90.

K-stores have meanwhile featured packages with 15 masks for 15.90. The university pharmacy chain is meanwhile now selling disposable masks for around 76 cents a piece.

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