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Allow pensioners on all schemes’ boards – MPs

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  • Allow pensioners on all schemes’ boards – MPs

NETHERLANDS - Dutch MPs have tabled an amendment of the Pension Act giving pensioners of industry-wide schemes an equal say on the board, like their fellow pensioners of company pension funds.

The MPs - Fatma Koşer Kaja of liberal democrat party D66 and Stef Blok of liberal party VVD - have proposed pension funds should consult their pensioners on who will represent them on the board.

In addition, Koşer Kaja and Blok are also aiming to establish some form of appeals facility for minorities in pension funds' participants' councils so they can check whether pension fund boards are looking after the interests of all groups in a balanced way.

According to the MPs, minority groups within schemes for the airline KLM and dairy company Campina have started court cases because they believe their interests are insufficiently taken into account.

Young participants, in particular, fear they have to carry a disproportionate burden of population ageing, they explained.

However, the Dutch Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds (VB) does not support the principle of pensioners' representation on the board, its spokesman Bram van Els told IPE.

"It means the loss of parity between employers and workers on the board. To the employers as main sponsors, this is unacceptable," he pointed out. "Moreover, board members with specific interests will lead to polarisation."

According to VB, a representation of pensioners on the board will set a precedent. "If also young participants, immigrants and women get their representatives, governing will become very difficult," Van Els pointed out.

"There is also the practical problem of finding representatives of pensioners among the participants at often very large industry-wide schemes," he added.

ABP, the €205bn scheme for civil servants, agrees with VB.

"Although industry-wide schemes don't allow for pensioners on their board, they pay ample attention to the interests of pensioners," spokesman Marcel Vleugels stressed.

"The workers' organisations which appoint their representatives also have retired members who can equally be represented as employees."

In Vleugels' opinion, "any changes to this set up need to be studied properly, before a sound decision can be taken."

Ttwo amendments to allocate equal numbers of board seats to employers, employees and pensioners at company schemes were previously thrown out by parliament.

But iIf parliament supports this new amendment, the proposed changes could take effect in 2009.

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