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Thursday's papers: Job-shedding fears, govt hype, gourmet shoplifters, Matti's gems

Concerns over a rash of job cuts, a minister plugs contentious government reforms, some shoplifters' cheesy choices and an Olympic hero's words of wisdom.

Petteri Orpo
Finance Minister Petteri Orpo used the debate on elder care to argue in favour of government's social and health care reform package. Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Daily Helsingin Sanomat probes recent retrenchment figures and concludes that there is no need for undue concern even if the new year has brought bad news for employees in many sectors. The paper cited payroll reduction announcements by a slew of firms including networks company Nokia (350), power systems firm Wärtsilä (150), construction firm Terrawise (100), retailer Hobby Hall (64) Valio (100), state betting firm Veikkaus (up to 400) and Fazer (83), as well as IT firm Tieto and meat producer HKScan, who will jointly slash more than 900 jobs.

However Simo Pinomaa, an economist with the private sector business lobby EK, had a reassuring take on the situation, saying that there is no sign of a sharp downturn ahead. "In the economic barometer, industrialists said that personnel numbers would not move in either direction at the beginning of the year. Staff are expected to continue growing in construction and services."

He noted that the redundancy talks reported recently could be caused by structural changes in certain sectors and in their finances. "There is no data [to suggest] that the wider economy would somehow take a plunge. The growth of output has slowed but it is continuing nonetheless," he added.

According to data collected by the blue-collar union confederation SAK, last year firms sent home 3,362 workers after co-determination talks. Those job cuts reflected the economic cycle at the time, however the situation has since improved and the employment rate stands at around 72 percent, HS noted.

Circumstances were very different before the economic recovery began to kick in from 2017. According to SAK data, between 2012 and 2016 employers cut loose from 10,000 to 15,000 workers every year.

Minister peddles reform package

Meanwhile Turku regional daily Turun Sanomat reports that National Coalition Party chair and Finance Minister Petteri Orpo used an opposition interpellation on the dire state of elder care in Finland to lobby for the government’s ambitious social and health care reform package, colloquially known as sote.

During Wednesday’s debate, which was inspired by a raft of reports about negligence and other shortcomings at senior care homes, Orpo pointed out that municipalities are currently responsible for certain statutory services. He suggested that the reform programme – which would increase the role of private service providers in the system – could help address the problems recently highlighted.

"Municipalities have failed, they are too weak, they have too little expertise, too little capacity in the current system to resist the need to outsource their operations. All of the parties here have done this," Orpo declared.

He stressed that the country needs strong players with the power and know-how required for purchasing and oversight.

"I dare anyone to say that the current system is good. Now is the time to finalise sote laws." The government has missed its target for passing legislative changes that would allow it to roll out the social and health care reform package, largely due to constitutional issues and disagreements. The raft of measures will likely have to be carried forward by the next administration.

Pilferers with a penchant for parmesan

Tabloid daily Ilta-Sanomat highlights cheese-loving shoplifters who have apparently indulged their craving for the dairy product by spiriting it away from some Lidl supermarkets in the capital area. IS spoke with a Helsinki mother who could find no parmesan cheese at Lidl’s Roihupelto outlet and later discovered that she had to ask for it at the cashier. The reason, she was told, was that thieves had been making off with the parmesan.

A few days later the woman reported a similar situation at another Lidl grocery store, this time in Pakila. Lidl Finland’s communications head, Pilvi-Sisko Riikonen, told IS that staff at the Roihupelto store had stocked limited amounts of certain items on shelves because they seemed to attract shoplifters. She added that there is usually a sign informing customers that they must ask for sales staff for the product.

"The intention is to minimise the problems caused by theft and to ensure that the products are available to paying customers," she added.

Riikonen said that the chain has had to implement the pilfer-proofing measure for other products and in other branches. She noted that apart from parmesan, shoplifters seem to warm to other types of cheese as well as peanuts.

Nykänen's bon mots: "It's fifty-sixty"

Coming off the press in Oulu, daily Kaleva remembers ski jumping legend Matti Nykänen for his often-cryptic comments which have since been immortalised in the Finnish lexicon.

Nykänen passed away early Monday morning and was known as much for his exploits on the ski jump course as he was for his misfortunes, latter-day singing career and his quotable quotes. Here’s a sample Kaleva borrowed from a compilation by the Lännen Media news consortium.

Every chance is an opportunity (Jokainen tsäänssi on mahdollisuus)
Life is life (Elämä on laiffii)
Life is a person’s best time (Elämä on ihmisen parasta aikaa)
It’s fifty-sixty (Se on fifty-sixty)
Love is like a ball of wool – it begins and ends (Rakkaus on kuin lankakerä – se alkaa ja loppuu)
Tomorrow is always [in] the future (Huominen on aina tulevaisuutta)

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