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Wednesday's papers: Taxi deregulation, unisex barracks and government trust issues

Today's papers report concerns about school transportation, unisex housing for conscripts and the coalition government's confidence crisis.

Koululaisia kävelemässä koulukuljetuksen kyytiin Simon Asemakylän koululla.
Image: Antti Heikinmatti / Yle

The Tampere daily Aamulehti asks how the deregulation of the taxi sector will affect the 120,000 children who are transported to and from schools by taxis every day.

According to the paper, municipalities across Finland are concerned that finding drivers to take up school transportation will be increasingly difficult as liberalisation of the trade is expected to reduce the number of taxi entrepreneurs in rural areas.

From 1 July taxi drivers no longer have the obligation to be available to provide transportation services in certain areas or during certain times of the day.

In addition, municipalities can now invite tenders from any provider to deliver school transportation services. Kai Andersson from the Finnish Taxi Owners Federation says if entrepreneurs in a rural area lose their school runs, it may not be worthwhile for them to remain in the business at all.

The safety of children is another concern as the deregulation allows any car to be used for professional transportation. Finland’s municipalities will have to consider whether some requirements should apply to school transports as regards the equipment used, Aamulehti says.

"Who would want their children to be transported to a school in a microcar?" asks Leena Pöntynen of the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

Unisex housing for conscripts

According to Ilta-Sanomat, Finland’s defence forces are interested in introducing unisex accommodation for conscripts, but Defence Minister Jussi Niinistö says there is no reason to change current arrangements.

The Finnish Conscript Association says unisex barracks has improved communication and team work between men and women in Norway and therefore they should at least be tried in Finland.

In contrast, Niinistö argues the current system where conscripts are separated based on gender has not caused problems and does not need to be changed.

Niinistö says about a third of female conscripts have faced sexual harassment in the military service in the past two years, and in his view introducing unisex barracks would not be helpful in stopping such behaviour.

Governmental rules of the game

The leaders of the government parties will meet on Wednesday morning to discuss trust issues and the 'rules of the game', reports daily Lapin Kansa.

The chair of the Blue Reform party, Sampo Terho, requested last week that the party chairs meet after the defection of its MP Kai Turunen to the conservative National Coalition Party (NCP). Terho was upset that the defection was planned behind the Blue Reform's back, which in his view drove the government into a crisis of confidence.

According to the paper, the Blue Reform is not the only party facing turbulence in the past weeks. A number of leading NCP MPs have turned against the government’s social and health care reform (known as sote) and MP Paavo Väyrynen, who announced he would quit the Centre Party and establish a new faction, said he would likely vote against the health care reform too.

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