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Dutch dairy sector to set up industry-wide pension fund

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The Dutch dairy sector has decided to establish its own industry-wide pension fund, as it will enable social partners to negotiate a “better deal” for workers. 

The new BPZ – launched by dairy industry organisation NZO with unions CNV Vakmensen, FNV Bondgenoten and De Unie – will be operational from 1 January 2015, according to Siward Swart of CNV Vakmensen.

Initially, 10 employers, including dairy giant FrieslandCampina, DOC Cheese and dairy companies Arla and Bel, will participate in the non-mandatory scheme. 

In establishing a new pension fund, the dairy sector is bucking the growing trend of consolidation in the Dutch market triggered by regulatory demands for improved board expertise and cost cutting.

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According to the DNB, the Netherlands currently has 367 pension funds, consisting of 279 company schemes and 70 industry-wide schemes.

Ten years ago, there were more than 700 pension funds in the country.

Swart told IPE the dairy sector decided to establish the new pension fund as part of the recently concluded new collective labour agreement (CAO).

Until now, only the former staff and pensioners at FrieslandCampina had been accruing pension rights through a pension fund.

The other employers had individual pensions arrangements for their staff with an insurer.

Swart said: “We found that negotiating a pension plan with an insurer costs a fortune, and that insured pension plans are becoming more expensive, or offering less attractive conditions.”

He said pensioners and deferred participants would remain in the Pensioenfonds Campina, which will now become a closed scheme.

As a consequence, the new pension fund BPZ, pending regulator approval, will start with premium-paying active participants only.

Swart said the creators of the new scheme were still negotiating with possible candidates for pensions provision and asset management, but declined to provide further details.

He said much of the same with respect to the composition of the fund’s board, which is to operate as an independent model.

He added that the new scheme would provide defined contribution arrangements, with a contribution of 17.1% of  pensionable salary, of which 14.8 percentage points will be paid by the employer.

The annual pensions accrual will be 1.875% of salary, next year’s tax-facilitated maximum.

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