Dutch unions, employers to ditch pension plan

26th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

Labour union and employers’ organisations are hopeful that they can arrive at an alternative solution to the government’s plan to raise retirement age to 67.

THE HAGUE – The Netherlands’s largest union FNV and the employers’ organisation VNO-NCW are open to investigating alternatives to the pension plan.

FNV union chairperson Agnes Jongerius said she was confident a viable alternative to raising the retirement age could be found. The chairman of VNO-NCW, Bernard Wientjes, also said he is prepared to investigate alternatives to the pension plan.

On Wednesday, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced a stimulus plan worth EUR 6 billion to help the country tide over the recession. He also said the retirement age will be raised from 65 to 67 but has given the independent Social and Economic Council six months to come up with alternative cost cutting measures.
The FNV union is due to organise a referendum on the cabinet's crisis package among its 1.2 million members.

The government’s decision to raise the retirement age to 67 despite political and electoral risks has been touted as courageous by Trouw.

However, market trends have shown that unemployed workers who are above the age of 55 have only between 2 and 3 percent to get a new job as companies are often reluctant to hire older workers and would rather opt for young Poles.

The paper concludes if the existing trend does not change, jobless older people below 67 and not entitled to pensions yet, will either survive on welfare handouts or disability allowances.

Opposition parties have also criticised the lack of participation in the secret talks over the crisis packages over the past three weeks. Out of the 150 MPs, only three – one from each of the three coalition parties – were allowed to attend the talks.

Meanwhile, right-wing populist leader Geert Wilders and nine-member PPV group
had stormed out of the on-going debate in the Lower House

Responding to remarks by a Christian Democrat MP, Wilders of Freedom Party concluded that debate was pointless, as "the cabinet won't change a thing in the plan, whatever the House says. If that's true, we're no more than a North-Korean parliament".

Radio Netherlands / Expatica

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