NETHERLANDS - Dutch postal company PostNL is planning to hold talks with its three pension funds and union members about the possibility of placing new curbs on its pension scheme.

Because the funding ratio at PostNL's largest pension fund - the €5.2bn Stichting Pensioenfonds TNT - fell to 96% at the end of September, the scheme is facing a €500m shortfall.

Under present arrangements, PostNL would have to plug the financial gap within three years. Furthermore, due to recent developments in the financial markets, contributions - paid fully by the company for most staff - must also be increased, PostNL said.

The postal company currently pays a regular contribution of 35%, while it also has an unlimited obligation to meet any financial shortfall.

What is more, a considerable drop in value of a 30% stake in TNT Express has put added pressure on PostNL's financial position, it said.

Harry Koorstra, chief executive at the company, said: "Of course we want a solid future-proof pension plan for our employees, but we want one that is closer to the market reality."

PostNL said it hoped to meet with union members and discuss its proposals for amending pensions arrangements early next year.

A company spokesman said: "We want to put the unlimited mandatory contribution and the current premium exemption for our staff on the agenda."

According to PostNL, from 1 February 2012, the executive board and management will begin paying contributions that better reflect market rates.

The company, which employs 77,000, is currently carrying out an extensive reorganisation aimed at shifting its delivery staff to part-time employment.

The project will largely come at the expense of 11,000 full-time workers.

PostNL's spokesman stressed that affected workers circumstances would be taken into account in negotiations over new pension arrangements.