Helsinki University Strike
Staff at Helsinki University are on strike today, after employers rejected the latest proposals from the National Conciliator’s office over employment terms and conditions. The 24-hour strike affects more than 32,000 students. It’s part of ongoing industrial unrest in Finland about collective bargaining agreements, where unions and employers’ federations try to come up with new deals for pay, conditions and terms of employment covering the next two years. There could be more university strikes on the horizon in Jyväskylä, Lapland, Turku and Lappeenranta for 14th March if there is not a new collective agreement in place by then at those universities either.
Extreme Cold Weather Continues
The Finnish Meteorological Institute warns of continuing extreme cold weather again today, although bright sunshine and less windy conditions means it might not feel as bad as Tuesday for many places – although it will still persist along the southern coast. The coldest temperature this morning was -31.9°C in Kuhmo but there’s still a long way to go to reach the single coldest part of Finland so far this winter, which was recorded -37.1°C in Utsjoki earlier in February. By contrast, northern Lapland is the warmest part of Finland today. The next weather front is already on the way – a low pressure system will bring weekend snow. For practical tips on how to cope like a Finn with extreme winter weather, read our original story here.
Flu Cases On The Rise
Influenza cases have continued to grow in some parts of Finland. University Hospitals in Kuopio and Tampere report a sharp rise in the number of infections in recent weeks; while Oulu University Hospital says the number of cases there has remained steady. In the Helsinki and Uusimaa Hospital District the peak for flu epidemic was in mid-February. Influenza B virus infections have been more common than influenza A. Twenty five patients in Oulu and 9 in Tampere have been admitted to intensive care due to their severe flu symptoms this year.
Education Inequality Highlighted In Parliament
The centre-right government of Juha Sipilä (Centre) will respond to an ‘interpellation’ in parliament today over education inequality brought by six opposition parties about inequality in Finland’s education system. “We need to take immediate action and stop the budget cuts on education and direct funding to those groups that need it most” Green Alliance Chairman Touko Aalto tells News Now Finland. An interpellation is a parliamentary procedure that ultimately tries to force a vote of no confidence in the government. You can read more about Finland’s growing education inequality in our original story here.
Kalevala Day Celebrated
Flags are flying in Finland today to celebrate Kalevala, the national epic literary work written by author Elias Lönnrot in 1835. Kalevala is based on folk poems that Lönnrot collected in the 19th century. In the early 1800s he made many poetry tours in Finland, across the eastern border and to residential areas to gather together folk story histories and preserve them together in his Kalevala work.