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Tuesday’s papers: Strike latest, ministerial misspeaking, a theatrical predator and Finnish wobblies

Tuesday’s newspapers are dominated by news of ongoing industrial strife.

Postilaisten mielenilmaus eduskuntatalolla
Postal workers remain on strike. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat reports on Tuesday that talks on resolving the dispute in the postal sector remain deadlocked.

The talks were close to a resolution on Monday evening but then the two sides moved further apart, meaning that they reconvene on Tuesday at the National Labour Conciliator’s office.

The issue remains the collective agreement applying to 700 parcel sorting office workers who the national postal company Posti has transferred to a subsidiary, worsening their terms and conditions.

SDP on slippery slope

Ilta-Sanomat looks at the political background to the strike. As Posti is a state-owned company, it falls under the purview of Sirpa Paatero, the Minister for State Ownership Steering.

She had said in parliament and to media that she wasn’t asked about the transfer of the 700 workers to an inferior collective agreement on wages and terms and conditions.

However Prime Minister Antti Rinne had also claimed in parliament that the government had prevented Posti from transferring some 10,000 workers to the lower-pay package.

The question IS not unreasonably poses is how the government can claim an active role in one case and ignorance in the other.

It’s an especially thorny issue for Rinne, who previously headed up the Pro trade union, and Paatero, who is also in the union-backed Social Democrat Party.

No pikkujoulu no party

The deadlocked dispute means widespread disruption to flights as aviation workers continue sympathy action, and some early morning bus services were cancelled in Helsinki as drivers returned to work.

Maritime workers are also taking action, refusing to join Finnish-flagged vessels and effectively keeping them in port.

Iltalehti reports that this could have been a problem for the Maritime workers union, which is having a Christmas party on a ship on Tuesday.

Happily for them, however, the ship on which they are partying is an Estonian-flagged vessel and able to continue on its merry way. Until Thursday when, if the dispute is not resolved, foreign-flagged ferries will also be left in port thanks to support action from dockworkers.

Baltzar case shocks Finland

Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday published an investigation into a theatre company run by Veijo Baltzar, an internationally renowned Roma cultural figure.

Reporters spoke to several women who said they were drawn into the Drom theatre company as teenagers through promises of stardom, only to find a controlling atmosphere.

They described a set up in which teenage girls were brought in to the company and told to flirt with Baltzar, and his favoured young women were required to live at his home.

One mother told the paper of her struggles to extract her daughter from the situation, and several women corroborated the claims about Baltzar’s questionable methods.

Baltzar was remanded into custody last week on suspicion of aggravated human trafficking.

The story has rumbled on in the press, with senior politicians wondering how they did not know and others arguing that Baltzar hid in plain sight: in the time before #metoo, it seems nobody was listening.

Paleface goes wobbly

Finnish rapper Paleface (real name Karri Miettinen) has a new record out this week, and it’s a little bit different.

Together with the Lauluvan unioni group he has recorded an album of songs dating from the Finnish sections of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in North America.

Helsingin Sanomat reports the background to the record, which came about when researcher Saijaleena Rantanen discovered a Finnish-language copy of an IWW songbook at Immigration History Research Centre in Minnesota.

The album, ‘Tie Vapauteen’ or ‘road to freedom’, recalls the politics of Finnish immigrants in the United States and Canada in the early years of the 20th century.

Many of them joined the anarcho-syndicalist IWW, members of which were colloquially known as ‘wobblies’, and published Finnish language newspapers and held Finnish language meetings and dances.

EDIT 27.11.2019 An earlier version of this story incorrectly named the IWW as the 'International Workers of the World'. The right name is of course 'Industrial Workers of the World'.

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