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Wednesday's papers: Centre Party mulls coalition online, welders wanted, unlawful school trip punishments

The Centre Party's social media surveys, the woes of the metal industry and unlawful disciplinary guidelines in schools are discussed in Wednesday's papers.

Hitsari työssään.
Welders are sorely needed in the Finnish metal industry. Image: Niko Mannonen / Yle

Social Democratic Party chair Antti Rinne was due to announce which Finnish political parties he wants to begin government negotiations with before midday on Wednesday, and Centre Party MPs took to social media to figure out whether joining with the democrats would be a good idea.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat wrote that top Centre Party politicians Katri Kulumni, Mikko Kärnä and ex-PM Matti Vanhanen posted social media updates and polls on Tuesday asking their Facebook friends and followers whether to enter the coming government coalition.

Rinne was due an answer as to the Centre Party's plans on Tuesday, but instead the party announced it would "gauge its base" before answering. IS wrote that MPs had until 9 am on Wednesday to reply yes or no to a web questionnaire.

"It looks like the election victors are not going to have a workable majority, so people are looking to the Centre Party. It's a simple question: should the Centre Party be prepared to enter coalition negotiations?" wrote Vanhanen late on Tuesday.

Responses to Vanhanen's and Kulumni's queries were mostly supportive of joining a coalition, while Kärnä's more formal poll had received almost 70 percent negative votes by Wednesday morning.

The official web questionnaire will determine what the Centre Party does, IS wrote, with the party's parliamentary group chair Antti Kaikkonen saying the results "would be respected".

Falling interest in metalwork training

Machinists and welders are in short supply in Finland as an industry-wide slump has caused interest in the work to wane, wrote daily Turun Sanomat. Various companies are turning to foreign workers and international programmes to make sure their factories remain adequately staffed.

Engineering company Skoda Transtech out of Kainuu, for instance, constructs trams for the tramlines in Helsinki and soon Tampere, too. TS wrote that half of the firm's 150 welders come from abroad, mainly from Russia and Poland, and mainly gaining employment through temping agencies or labour banks.

Transtech CEO Lasse Orre said one solution would be to bring welding training programmes right to Russia, specifically to the industrial town of Kostomuksha near Finland's eastern border.

"We have to figure out where to find welders, and Finnish people don't seem to care for the work," Orre said.

The situation is not rosy at shipbuilding company Meyer Turku, either. Most of the workers are in-house employees, but now not even the basic training courses can be filled.

"We started an intro course for plater-welders in March, and we were supposed to have one in the summer, but we had to cancel that," Meyer Turku publicist Tapani Mylly said in TS. "Let's hope there'll be more interest in the autumn."

Dodgy school guidelines

Meanwhile newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported on a reader survey that found one in four parents have come across official school rules or guidelines about student behaviour that are prohibitively or even illegally strict.

The paper wrote on Monday that a school in Tampere had sent around a form for parents to fill out ahead of a children's field trip. The form indicated that misbehaving students would be sent home with a guardian by bus, train or taxi – no matter how far away the destination is from the school district.

For instance, a cab ride from Helsinki's popular Linnanmäki amusement park back to Tampere would have the cost the parents of a child from that school some 300 euros. The school's principal Sirpa Raevaara admitted in HS that the form was a mistake.

"I admit that such a form was in fact sent to parents. We follow the Finnish National Agency for Education rules, and guidelines like these are prohibited," Raevaara said.

The punitive money-related measures are against the Finnish constitution and the right to free basic education, according to education agency administrator Matti Lahtinen.

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