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Slovenian Trade Unions File Referendum Motion on Budget

Slovenia’s public-sector trade unions called for a referendum on the budget for the next two years that will deepen the euro-area nation’s recession.

The education, science and culture trade union of Slovenia and some 30 other workers’ groups filed a request with the parliament in Ljubljana to begin the referendum process, Karmen Uglesic, the legislature’s spokeswoman, said by phone today. Unions oppose the announced 5 percent public-sector wage cuts.

Other referendums already threaten key legislation in Slovenia, including on a bank-recapitalization plan and the creation of a wealth fund. Slovenia, mired in its second slump in three years, is struggling to avoid an international bailout amid government austerity measures to overhaul the economy.

The government will ask the Constitutional Court not to approve the budget referendum, Finance Minister Janez Sustersic said before the motion was filed. If the vote goes ahead, the 2013 budget will be suspended and operate on a month-by-month basis, he said.

“Agriculture, the environment, transport and health will suffer the most” if the plebiscite takes place, Sustersic said to state council members in Ljubljana today.

Parliament Speaker Gregor Virant will now call a 30-day period, during which unions must collect 40,000 signatures for the referendum to proceed.

Under the budget passed by lawmakers on Dec. 6, a cut in public-sector wages will help narrow the fiscal shortfall to within the European Union limit in 2013. The Adriatic country predicts a budget gap of about 4 percent of gross domestic product this year, which will fall to less than 2.8 percent in 2013, according to Sustersic.

To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Cerni in Ljubljana at bcerni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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