Pre-pension talks stall again
24 May 2004
AMSTERDAM — Discussions between the Christian trade union confederation CNV and employers associations VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland failed on Monday to resolve an impasse over pre-pension schemes.
The CNV and the two employers groups had tried, on the initiative of confederation chief Doekle Terpstra, to agree on a plan allowing workers take early retirement. But the meeting broke up without agreement and no date for a resumption was set.
After two hours of talks, VNO-NCW social affairs director J. van den Braak said there “was no base for continued discussions”, news agency ANP reported.
The meeting was called after pre-budget talks last week ended without agreement. Terpstra said on Monday neither the Cabinet, employers nor unions appear willing to moderate their demands.
During crucial CAO workplace labour agreement talks last October, the Cabinet, employers and unions agreed to a two-year wage freeze. But the unions demanded and won concessions over WAO disability pensions and early retirement.
The failure to reach an agreement over the pre-pension means that unions no longer feel bound to the wage-freeze accord. Wage-rise demands will impact on the government’s plans to cut EUR 17 billion from the budget by 2007.
Van den Braak said the Cabinet, employers and unions will reach a pre-pension accord only if they agree to the government’s final offer, which allows workers to take early retirement from the age of 62.5.
But unions rejected this offer because primarily workers will not be obligated to take part in the scheme. This raises the prospect that employees will drop out, making the collective system unaffordable.
Trade union confederation FNV was not invited to Monday’s talks, but Terpstra had hoped the FNV would later agree with any accord reached between the CNV and employers groups VNO-NCW and MKB-Nederland.
But neither Terpstra nor Van den Braak have a compromise proposal with the cabinet in sight. Industrial unrest or wage demands breaking the wage-freeze accord are expected if a pre-pension deal cannot be reached.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news