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Monday's papers: Finnish berry pickers, summer camp poisoning, rain clouds

Finland’s press reports on Finnish seasonal workers' complaints about poor working and living conditions on berry farms.

Mansikkaa kylpymässä.
Finnish berry farms have recruited local labour as seasonal workers from abroad were unable to travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. Image: Kati Ala-Renko / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat reports on the fallout from its own investigation into the experiences of Finnish berry pickers, who this summer have been drafted into farms to plug the gap left by the lack of seasonal workers coming from abroad.

HS writes that Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä was "surprised" to learn of the poor working conditions and accommodation revealed to the paper by five Finnish women working on a berry farm in the North Savo region, one of whom told HS that the whole experience opened her eyes "to why Finns do not want to work on farms".

"My understanding is that the majority of farmers treat workers with respect and abide by contracts," the minister said.

Arto Teronen, Director of Supervision at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, was however not so surprised by the reports, and told HS that working conditions and accommodation standards within the agricultural sector in Finland regularly fall below what is expected.

These issues often pass under the radar, Teronen told HS, because foreign seasonal workers have a higher threshold for such problems, and they do not necessarily trust the Finnish authorities anyway.

This summer will be different however, as Teronen expects Finnish workers will air their grievances much more readily, and know who to complain to. With this in mind, minister Leppä urged farmers to improve working conditions when needed, as negative reports can affect the entire industry.

"All employees must be treated with respect and collective agreements must be complied with," Leppä said.

6 accidentally poisoned at children’s summer camp

Tabloid Iltalehti reports that that five children and one camp instructor were poisoned after a "chain of unfortunate events" led to pipe cleaning fluid being mixed with juice at a summer camp organised by the Finnish-Swedish religious youth organisation FMU in Vaasa.

The organisers of the camp, which is held for children aged between 11 and 13, told the tabloid that the cleaning fluid had been stored in an old juice canister and was mistakenly mixed and then served.

The six people who drank the potent mixture were given first aid at the scene, and then transferred to a local hospital. A number of other people also drank the substance, but spat it out immediately.

Joanna Österblad of the Ostrobothnian Police told IL that the police launched an investigation into the events after they were informed of the poisoning at the camp by the hospital.

"The matter has come to the attention of the police and is currently being investigated," Österblad said.

Here comes the rain again

Several newspapers on Monday morning report the end of the recent heatwave, with tabloid Ilta-Sanomat declaring the "sudden end" to high temperatures as a "week of rain begins".

IS writes that the first of the rain clouds will arrive in the west of Finland early on Monday and slowly spread from there to other parts of the country, bringing thunderstorms to some areas on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Temperatures will also dip, according to the tabloid, with southern and central parts of the country seeing a drop of up to 10 degrees Celsius from the highs of last week.

There is one bright spot on the horizon however, as IS reports the Finnish Meteorological Institute is predicting a return to warm, sunny days once the rain passes, and that temperatures for the month of July are expected to be normal for this time of year.

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