Expatica news

Unions reject pre-pension plan

6 April 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch trade union federations remain unsatisfied by a government offer to allow people to stop work at the age of 63.5 or take a pre-pension at age 61 if additional leave savings are taken into account.

The collective pre-pension is the final offer from Social Affairs Minister Aart Jan de Geus to unions and employers as a compromise on earlier proposals. It comes as part of the exchange for an agreed two-year wage freeze.

The minister previously wanted people to keep working until they were 65. He later lowered the age bracket to age 63.5, but disgruntled unions refused to agree, public news service NOS reported.

Workers can now choose to stop work earlier by using a combination of the collective pre-pension from the age of 63.5 and taking 2.1 years in leave, financed via a special levensloopregeling savings scheme.

The savings scheme must still be established — and is a variation of other schemes workers can use to save for work leave.  Participation in the collective pre-pension arrangement is voluntary.

But trade union federations FNV and CNV said they were surprised that De Geus’ plan was his final offer. A director with FNV, Agnes Jongerius, said if the minister meant the offer seriously, he was heading for a confrontation with unions.

She said only workers with high incomes will be able to stop work at the age of 61, claiming that average construction worker or nurse will not be able to save 12 percent of their wage to afford the pre-pension.

Jongerius also pointed out the unions had wanted to set up the pre-pension to specifically benefit workers employed in such physically demanding jobs.

The coalition cabinet parties had initially agreed in the government accord last year that everyone will be forced to work until the age of 65 to counteract the effects of an aging population. It wished to make early retirement as financially unattractive as possible.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news