March 11, 2016 / 4:57 PM / 2 years ago

New Slovenian asylum law delayed by union over tax dispute

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - The Slovenian Trade Union of Migrant Workers on Friday called for a referendum on new asylum legislation, as part of its campaign to persuade the government to reduce taxation for Slovenians who work in neighboring Austria.

Migrants walk towards a makeshift camp close to the Austrian border town of Spielfeld in the village of Sentilj, Slovenia, February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Its demand will delay implementation of a law passed a week ago intended to speed processing of requests for asylum.

The union formally registered its demand with parliament on Friday, backed by more than 6,000 signatures. A referendum will be held if the union can collect 40,000 signatures in favor in the coming weeks.

Its tax grievance is unrelated to the asylum law, but the delay to the enforcement of the legislation caused by the call for a referendum is seen as a tactic to put pressure on the government. Earlier this week it called for a referendum on another law unrelated to asylum issues.

Taxes on personal income are lower in Austria, and Slovenians who work there have to pay additional taxes at home to cover the difference.

“If the state is sending us invoices for 1,000 or 2,000 euros, we will start sending it invoices for 5 million euros,” Martin Ivec, deputy president of the union, told TV station Planet TV earlier this week - referring to the cost of holding a referendum.

According to local media about 14,000 Slovenians work in Austria, half of them traveling daily to Austria.

Parliamentary speaker Milan Brglez told reporters on Friday the union “was trying to get a privileged (tax) position” for its members by pushing for referendums.

Slovenia said on Thursday it would in April accept the first 40 migrants of its EU relocation quota. By August 2017 it will accept 587, most of whom are now in Greece and Italy.

Any delay to the asylum law caused by the union’s referendum demand is not expected to cause major disruption. Almost 500,000 migrants have passed through Slovenia over the past five months on their way to wealthier European states, and only about 460 applied for asylum in Slovenia.

Editing by Andrew Roche

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