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Wednesday's papers: Russian interference, budget woes, and declining trade unions

Russia's influence in Finland, post-election economic realities and Finns lose faith in trade unions.

Anonyymeja ihmisiä Helsingin keskustassa.
Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

A fresh report on Russia (Voiman Venäjä), authored by some 40 experts from a number of Finnish research organisations and state agencies, makes for worrisome reading, reports Swedish-language daily Hufvudstadsbladet.

Authors of the report recommend that Finland up its preparedness for dealing with Russian interference as it attempts to influence societal debate and decision making in the country.

The report homes in on Finland’s asymmetrical power balance with Russia, and teases out the inherent conflict of interest governing the neighbours’ security policy. Finland’s approach has been to deepen its relationships with partner countries while maintaining an open dialogue with Russia. However, the report warns, this path of closer military cooperation with the West could lead to increased criticism and pressure from Finland’s eastern neighbour.

Mind the gap

With general elections just weeks away, business daily Kauppalehti’s leader dives into the economics of election promises, noting that Finland will face tough decisions on which services to cut after the new government takes office.

When the government collapsed last week over its failed social and health care reform, colloquially known as "sote", so too did the promised savings of three billion euros, according to KL.

KL writes that the Finance Ministry has estimated that Finland has a ten billion euro fiscal sustainability gap. Reaching a 75 percent employment level will not be enough to shore up public funds, according to the paper.

Championing workers’ rights?

Helsingin Sanomat’s leader this morning follows up on news of falling membership in trade unions. In 2017, around half of men and two-thirds of women were card-carrying members of labour organisations in Finland.

The increasing fragmentation of work life are behind the downward trend. People entering the workforce are often faced with short-term contracts while it has become increasingly common for modern workers to switch fields. This two-pronged trend means employees feel less of a pull to join sector-specific trade unions.

HS says today’s workers are mainly interested in trade union membership for earnings-related unemployment benefits and legal aid.

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