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Tuesday's papers: Retail manager strike, overworked ministers, name rule changes and sleep keeping kids slim

Papers on May 2nd in Finland cover a 12-hour strike in the retail sector, MP Maria Guzenina's remarks about ministers complaining about their work, the pending reform of Finland's 30-year-old Names Act, and research that shows that regular bedtimes teach self-regulation.

Lapsi nukkuu.
Sweet sleep Image: Yle

May Day is a traditional workers' rights holiday and so news of industrial action starting on the second day of May in Finland shouldn't perhaps come as a surprise. The tabloid Iltalehti reports that a retail managers' strike began at midnight and will last 12 hours.

The Federation of Professional and Managerial Staff (YTN), a member of the white-collar union confederation Akava, is staging a walkout that will affect the retail chains of Kesko, S-group and Stockmann, in addition to Oriola pharmacies, Instru Optics and the warehousing and transport firm Inex Partners. The next walkout is scheduled to begin on Friday from noon to midnight. The strike is not expected to affect the company's customers, at least at first, as the industrial action will focus on headquarter operations and systems management.

'Stop complaining'

Finland's second major tabloid Ilta-Sanomat interviews MP and former Music Television VJ Maria Guzenina about a May Day speech she gave that was interpreted as a slight to Minister Jari Lindström. Speaking yesterday, Guzenina said her political party, the Social Democrats "don't have the habit of sacrificing themselves to the burden of political work". An in-depth story on Minister of Justice and Employment Jari Lindström's breakdown from overwork handling two ministries last year appeared in the country's leading daily Helsingin Sanomat this weekend, so she was assumed to be referring to his very public burnout.

Guzenina's speech said ministers who complain about being tired constitute a profound insult to ordinary people who have no choice but to withstand the consequences of government policy.  She clarified for the tabloid that "I didn't say that no one in our party would ever get burnout. But this is something different from griping about how much work there is. I was referring to this lighter kind of complaining," she said.

After having served as Minister of Health and Social Services from 2011 to 2013 under former Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, she says she is fully aware of "how hard it is to keep everything under control and find some personal time as a minister". Guzenina says she was referring to other ministers who have complained about the stress of their positions to the press, not to Lindström's case.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services Juha Rehula, both of the Centre Party, were vocal about the burden of governing in the recent local elections. Guzenina points out to IS that she hasn't heard any complaints from the women ministers who are currently serving.

Facing a changing world

The newspaper Keskisuomalainen out of the central city of Jyväskylä features a story on Tuesday about proposals that will be released today for a reform of Finland's Names Act 

Finland has strict legal obligations when it comes to names; everyone must have a surname and forename and for example, section 11 of the act states that "A name cannot be approved as a new surname if it is inappropriate, or if its use may otherwise cause manifest inconvenience, or the form or spelling of the name is contrary to the naming practices in Finland, or the name is commonly used as a forename, or the name is formed by combining two surnames." First names have similar restrictions.

A draft of a proposed amendment to the law will be submitted to Justice Minister Lindström on Tuesday, and it is expected to have several components that will make the law more accommodating of a more international and demographically diverse country. For instance, the amendment is expected to make allowances for two-name surnames, such as the kind that are used in Spain and Portugal. KSLM writes that preliminary information indicates that the rules on forenames will also be made more lenient. Finland's current Names Act is over 30 years old.

Sleep more important than regular meals

And lastly, Helsingin Sanomat has an article on research that shows that regular bedtimes have more effect on children's weight than regular mealtimes. A British study tracked children born in the 2000s and found that regular routines of all kinds helped children to learn self-regulation and stave off excess weight. Regular eating times were not found to correlate with slimmer children, but regular sleeping patterns were.

Research showed that 11-year-old children who watched less than one hour of television every day and had regular sleeping and eating patterns were able to regulate their feelings better. This level of self-regulation also meant that they were not overweight. HS says that the same research group's unit in Ohio found that children who went to bed before 8 pm were 50 percent less likely to gain weight as teenagers than kids who went to bed an hour later.

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