Slovenia: Cross-border workers create new union
In March 2016, more than 2,000 cross-border Slovenian workers joined a new organisation – the Trade Union of Migrant Workers of Slovenia (SDMS) – to lobby the government against the double taxation of Slovenian workers abroad. With more than 20,000 Slovenian workers travelling daily to work in Austria, lobbying has been ongoing for 10 years.
SDMS filed two referendum initiatives, one for the amendment of media law and the other for legislation on international protection. In order to prevent a referendum, the Prime Minister met with representatives of SDMS and promised to find a solution regarding taxation of cross-border workers by the end of March; in response, the union ceased collecting the 20,000 signatures required to hold a legislative referendum.
However, the issue of taxation has become more acute following recent actions by the Financial Management Board under which migrant workers are no longer entitled to tax relief. Cross-border workers refuse to pay double taxes; however, their expectations for legislative changes were disappointed, with the Slovenian government offering only the option of payment of taxes by instalments. In April 2016, therefore, SDMS decided to file a new referendum initiative for customs legislation and the amended laws on administrative fees and cultural heritage.
The trade union has stressed that it only fights for workers' rights and because the Government refuses to recognise the rights of cross-border workers, it will use its voting rights to temporarily stop the implementation of adopted laws. In its opinion, cross-border workers have been punished twice: first, they must search for work abroad and then they are required to pay double taxes.