NETHERLANDS - The new Dutch Alternative Labour Union (AVV) says it has taken giant pension fund ABP to court over age discrimination in the pre-pension for government employees.

The year-old organisation, together with a group of 10 civil servants and secondary and higher education teachers, accuses ABP of putting the costs of the recently modified system unilaterally with people under the age of 56.

According to the group - all aged between 31 and 53 - ABP is illegally discriminating against workers for their ages, as people under the age of 56 have to carry the burden of pre-pensioners above 56. The younger employees therefore have to work longer, they argue.

Also the regulation does not conform to new VUT and pre-pension law's objective, as workers over 56 should be encouraged to work longer to keep the pension system sustainable.

AVV thinks that ABP is doing the direct opposite: for workers over 56 it remains possible to retire earlier and this at the cost of the workers who are under 56.

Last year, government employers and unions, such as the Abvakabo FNV and CNV Publieke Zaak, came to the agreement in which workers over 56 only had to work a few months longer in comparison to the original retirement age of 61.

The 2,300-member AVV opposed this agreement, as younger civil servants will have to pay €12bn in the next few years to keep the early retirement of older civil servants.

The union also thinks it is unfair that workers above 56 have the prospect of working a minimum of nine months longer.

According to a spokesman for the fund, ABP is confident about the case. Last year the social partners took the agreement to the Commission Equal Treatment (CGB), which ruled that the agreement does not contradict the law.

The spokesman was surprised that AVV is taking ABP to court now. He said: "We have been in discussions since last year with AVV," he said.

AVV vice chairman Martin Pikaart says that a solution was not forthcoming from ABP's side and hence in January the union started to prepare for the case. It has taken so long as it is "a complex matter" according to Pikaart.

Pikaart says it is logical ABP claims to feel confident. But the AVV argues that the CGB agreed itself that ABP is discriminating, but in lack of a better alternative the CGB could not come to another conclusion. Pikaart himself is sure that AVV will win.