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Wednesday's papers: Flow bouncer brutality, Uber's ending, Kiky joy and Brexit analysis

Wednesday's papers include stories about a disturbing incident at last weekend's Flow festival, Uber's break from Finland, lower labour costs and an editorial about Britain's attempt to finally publish some concrete ideas about what it might want from Brexit.

Uber -sovelus puhelimen näytöllä.
There's no more Uber in Finland--until 2018 at least. Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

Helsingin Sanomat's Nyt section takes a look at an incident at Helsinki's hugely popular Flow Festival over the weekend, in which security apparently assaulted a Russian DJ after she'd performed at the festival.

Inga Mauer was in the festival area at 1:45am when security asked her to leave. She said no, reports Nyt, as she was eating food laid on for performers and hadn't finished. Then, according to event promoters, Mauer's agent and her friend and fellow DJ Marie Davidson, several bouncers started beating her up.

Afterwards they took her outside the festival area and handed her over to the police, who took her for a night in the cells. She was incommunicado until the morning, according to her friends and agent, who released a statement condemning security at the festival.

Flow organisers joined the condemnation and said an investigation is ongoing, while the company they'd hired to provide security, Local Crew, said that they did not at present have evidence that bouncers over-reacted.

End of Uber?

HS also reports on the end of Uber Pop, the ride-sharing service that's suffered from a legal crackdown in Finland. Tuesday was its last day of operation in Finland, with just the professional Uber Black service left in the country.

Uber says it aims to return in the summer of 2018, when a legal reform will remove the cap on the number of taxi licenses granted in Finland and ease the requirements for obtaining one.

At that point, Uber hopes it will be able to operate without legal difficulties. Drivers have been prosecuted for breaking Finland's tight taxi regulations, with some asked to hand over thousands of euros in earnings to the state--and the firm's Finnish country manager asked to hand over his assets in Helsinki district court.

Competitiveness boost

Business daily Kauppalehti has happy news for the government: Finland's unit labour costs are dropping steeply. That is thanks in large part to Finland's competitiveness pact (Finnish acronym: Kiky), which cut pay and extended working hours for most employees in the Finnish economy.

It was a tough sell, with Finland's tripartite wage bargaining system of unions, employers and government tested almost to breaking point. Now the results are in and, if the goal is to narrow the gap between Finland and similar EU countries in labour costs, the pact has worked.

KL reports that German unit labour costs are forecast to rise by 1.8 percent between 2016 and 2018, while in Finland they will drop by 0.3 percent. The government hopes that will make Finnish exports cheaper and help boost the economy.

KL does remind readers, however, that competitiveness is to some extent in the eye of the beholder. Unions and some economists criticised the pact as it focused on labour costs rather than productivity or management and sales competence which are--according to professor Pertti Haaparanta at least--particularly weak in Finland.

Brexit observations

Tuesday saw Britain publish papers on some of its plans for a future outside the European Union. These negotiations are being followed closely in European countries, especially anglophile ones like Finland, and so it's no surprise that HS carries an editorial taking a stand on the proposals.

Up to now Britain and the EU have been playing a game of chicken, according to HS, with both hoping the other would back down in time. However a so-called 'cliff edge Brexit' is a bad outcome for everyone, says the paper, so somebody has to blink.

HS believes the UK's proposals for a transition arrangement with shared customs controls represent a sort of climbdown and--more importantly--a victory for those in Britain advocating for a softer Brexit.

Finland's government and especially liberal newspapers like HS would prefer soft to hard Brexit, so it remains to be seen whether that particular assessment is accurate--or just wishful thinking.

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