SLOVAKIA wants to move its unemployment problems to neighbouring states, according to Doris Bures of the Austrian Social Democratic Party, in a reaction to plans from the Slovak Labour Ministry.
The ministry intends to pay unemployed Slovaks travel benefits of up to €52 per month for a maximum period of three months to those who find jobs in Slovakia's neighbouring states.
The Austrian Economy Ministry warned that there is a seven-year transition period for Slovaks in Austria, preventing the free movement of labour. Slovaks who want to work in Austria need a special permit from the authorities and the future employer must prove that they are not able to find an Austrian for the given job, the daily SME reported.
The Czech Republic has also taken note of the planned travel allowance, but does not fear a huge influx of workers from Slovakia.
The benefits are planned in the form of a pilot project, within which a maximum of 4,000 unemployed Slovaks, who will be selected by the Slovak labour authorities, would be entitled to receive the allowance.
To qualify for the benefit, recipients must have been registered as unemployed for at least three months. The stipend will be given only for a maximum of three months.
The Labour Ministry said that Austrian fears came about because of misinterpretation of the plan by the Austrian press. He dubbed the fears unjustified.
"In no way do we want to solve Slovakia's unemployment to the detriment of our neighbours. We are only trying to support labour mobility in the near-border regions," said the ministry's Peter Húska.
According to SME, some 340,000 foreigners work in Austria of which 5,600 are Slovaks.
20. Jun 2005 at 0:00 | From press reports