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NCP party office leaders accused of sexist workplace behaviour

An anonymous letter states that the National Coalition Party’s administrative office has a bad work atmosphere, characterised by foul language and misogynist behaviour. Party secretary Janne Pesonen and administrative manager Timo Elo are named specifically. NCP chair Petteri Orpo says he has addressed the issue, and that the party maintains a zero tolerance policy for inappropriate activity.

Kokoomuksen puoluesihteeri Janne Pesonen
Janne Pesonen has been the top administrative employee of the NCP for a year. Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

A former employee of the centre-right National Coalition Party’s administrative headquarters has accused the NCP party secretary Janne Pesonen and administrative manager Timo Elo of humiliating and chauvinistic behaviour in the workplace, according to a letter intercepted by the Finnish Broadcasting Company Yle.

NCP party chair Petteri Orpo admits that the party office has problems and they have been addressed.

"We can’t deny that we had some problems with our personnel this last autumn, but I intervened as soon as I heard about it," Orpo told Yle.

In a letter sent to the party administration in December 2016, a former employee of the NCP office explained the situation.

"The human resources management problems can be summed up simply: people are treated badly," the letter reads.

"Bawdy language"

Yle interviewed several other employees in the party office who were familiar with the inflamed situation. Because of the sensitive nature of the case, however, they asked to remain nameless.

These supporting interviews paint a picture of an office environment that uses "bawdy language". Older interviewees say they aren’t fazed by the behaviour, but understand that "the younger work generation could find it horrible".

The letter that started it all refers to regular degradation of the office staff.

"It's part of the daily routine that the party secretary and the administrative manager engage in chauvinistic banter, public humiliation of their employees, ’joking’ about people losing their jobs and turning employees against each other," it reads.

Both men deny inappropriate behaviour

Janne Pesonen was chosen as the political party’s party secretary in February 2016. He won’t admit that he would be guilty of making chauvinist jokes.

"I don’t recognize that we would have that kind of activity in our party office. Of course, I’m out in the field a lot, so I’m not here all the time. There’s been very little of it - if it has happened - and we have tried to tackle it right away. I won’t admit that this would be typical for our office," Pesonen says.

Administrative manager Timo Elo responded to the accusations on Friday, saying the matter has been examined and no problems have been found.

"Of course not, we’ve got a completely normal working environment. Maybe we are a little free with our ways to some people, and our language can be pretty brutal, but there hasn’t been any inappropriate behaviour towards anyone," says Elo.

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