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Finnish Compassionate Conservatism

by NordicStorm Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 11:00:26 AM EST

Prior to the elections to the Eduskunta (the Finnish parliament) last March, the right-of-centre campaigned on increasing pay equality between men and women in public sector lower wage jobs. Ever since the election, the healthcare workers union has been hounding the now right-of-centre government to make good on their promises, even going so far as mentioning the possibility of a strike.

From the diaries ~ whataboutbob


But Member of the Eduskunta (ME) Arja Karhuvaara (of the conservative National Coalition Party) argues that raising salaries would cost the municipalities too much money, and wants to keep pay raises at a fairly low level. A boilerplate conservative argument and possibly a legitimate point (though a bit hard to swallow given the fact that the government also wants to decrease the inheritance tax), but then Karhuvaara makes some rather revealing comments:

Karhuvaara är irriterad över sjukskötarnas taktik inför löneförhandlingarna.
- De borde sluta klaga över hur hemskt de har det. Hur ska unga fås att söka sig till en bransch där alla bara klagar?
Karhuvaara is annoyed by the nurses' tactics before the salary negotiations.
- They should stop complaining about how horrible conditions are for them. How are we to get young people to join a sector wherein everyone just keeps complaining?
(From the August 28, 2007 edition of Hufvudstadsbladet; registration required)

So there you have it! You shouldn't raise awareness of your working conditions, because that will only make things worse! It's not so much the fact that your working conditions are bad that are discouraging young people from becoming nurses, it's the fact that the youngsters are aware of the bad conditions when they're considering their career options! God forbid they'd make informed decisions!
This particular strategy, that is to not raise awareness of your working conditions, lest someone were to find out about them, is also known as the "tree in the forest" strategy; if an employee is having a problem at work, but does not complain to his or her employer, does the problem actually exist? If you're an employer, the answer is of course "no". And you can't solve a problem that doesn't exist. Besides, if there was a problem, you'd think the employee would have let you known about it!
For our American friends, the concept is somewhat similar to what in the parlance of American political theory is known as "keeping one's powder dry, or else Karl Rove might say something bad about us".

Karhuvaara gets the opportunity to elaborate on and perhaps clarify her comment a bit, but instead she opts to dig that hole just a little bit deeper:
Sjukskötarna kan enligt Karhuvaara långt skylla sig själva över att yrket har låg status och att alltför få söker sig till branschen.
The nurses have, to a large extent, themselves to blame for the fact that the nursing profession is a low status job and that all too few become nurses, according to Karhuvaara.

And there's that conservative mindset rearing its ugly head again. You are where you are because you chose to be there, and if things aren't to your liking, it's your own damn fault. Now shut up and get back to work!
For a minute there I thought my favourite politician, Newt Gingrich, who made similarly compassionate comments about the victims of Hurricane Katrina, had been elected to the Eduskunta.

Interestingly enough, prior to being elected to the Eduskunta, Karhuvaara worked as a physical therapist, also a low-wage healthcare job, so you would think she would have some idea of the working conditions of Finnish nurses, and perhaps have an ounce of sympathy. Instead, she says:
Jag känner ingen fysioterapeut som skulle gå omkring och klaga över hur tungt det är. Och vi har sämre lön än sjukskötarna!
I don't know a single physical therapist who would go around and complain about how hard [his or her] job is. And we have lower wages than the nurses!

I suppose her comments may be rooted in a misguided view of the Finnish work ethos (that is, it's "dirty" and "rude" to complain) as opposed to in conservative ideology.
Then again, a 5540€ monthly salary as an ME makes you see things a bit differently.

Display:
I fear I'm going to drive everyone nuts with all my diaries on Finland, but whataboutbob did request more diaries...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 07:09:44 AM EST
Write on, comrade! Write on!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 08:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I feel the same. 'Bob - he who must be obeyed' ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 01:24:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also...nordicstorm...you write many good European-related stories, not just Finnish ones! But good articles on most any European issues are greatly appreciated!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 11:02:12 AM EST
Thanks...I was just noting this was my third Finland-related diary within the span of a week...we'll have to rename the site to "Suomalainen tribuuni" if this keeps up ;)

Still, I'd like to think some of the themes touched upon has relevance beyond Finland's borders. Underpaid nurses is a rather international concept, isn't it?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 11:52:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely. Unionism in 21st century EU too...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 11:56:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't seen any bilingual diaries or comments on Finland yet... We've have bilingual English/Swedish diaries about Sweden, though...

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 11:56:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean bilingual English/Finnish.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 11:57:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would be a tall order for my not-fluent-in-Finnish self...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 12:09:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Given your choice of quotations I suspected as much.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 01:50:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course. There are plenty of transferable lessons here. I always find it interesting to see how things work in other European countries.  I know things work differently and still I am sometimes surprised by how stark some contrasts can be, and then we see big areas of overlapping concern too and it is useful to see what works and what doesn't.
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 12:33:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I like about ET and blogs in general; it really helps you "connect the dots". As I tried to illustrate with the Gingrich comparison above, it's only a matter of degree, and the underlying ideology seems to be exactly the same.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Aug 30th, 2007 at 09:31:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Karhuvaara is also unbelievably shortsighted. Even now, there's a nurse shortage in many cities in Finland, and many nurses are moving abroad (to for example Norway and Great Britain) where they can get a better salary. At the same time, Finland has more old people than ever before, so the need for nurses and other health care professionals is growing.

I've heard the argument "well, the nurses have themselves to blame - why become a nurse if you want a bigger salary" many times, but ... what if no-one wants to be a nurse anymore? Shall we just import nurses from Poland or what? It's not like the society can manage very well if everyone decides to be a Nokia engineer instead of taking on healthcare or social sector jobs.

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--

by tzt (tzt) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 12:01:37 PM EST
Absolutely. So supposedly we can't afford to pay them...but can we afford not to pay them?

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 12:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It comes down, in the end, to respect. There are vocational and 'other reward' aspects to both teaching and nursing. But I guarantee that 'respect' is an important element of vocational motivation.

We long ago had a useful discussion about altriusm. For me, that means the recognition (even within a small audience) that what you do is worthy of respect. That what you do, in your own way, is trying to make things better and that that is appreciated. I think most of us are driven by that thought - especially here.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 29th, 2007 at 01:32:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like think that search and desire for respect is the reason why media educations are so popular these days. They've confused "respect" with "being recognised".

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Aug 30th, 2007 at 09:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Btw, I hope no one minds I played around a bit with the bilingual layout. I don't know if it looks better like that or anything, but I kinda' prefer it this way when quoting shorter passages of text...

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde
by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Thu Aug 30th, 2007 at 06:32:10 AM EST
If you're blockquoting a single paragraph this layout is probably better.

Can the last politician to go out the revolving door please turn the lights off?
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 30th, 2007 at 06:33:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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