The social partners of the €100m industry-wide scheme for the offshore fisheries, Zeevisserij, have said they wish to join the €19bn mandatory industry-wide pension fund for the printing industry, PGB.

Employers and unions said they intended to set up an individual defined contribution (DC) plan with PGB, while leaving its current assets with insurer Aegon, which has guaranteed life-long benefits for the pension fund’s participants.

Documents sent to union members revealed that the reason for changing pension arrangements was the end of its contract with Aegon, due to expire at the end of the year.

Another issue were the increasing costs at the small scheme, which had less than 900 active participants, approximately 1,000 pensioners and 1,250 deferred members.

Marga Schaap, independent chair of the scheme, said: “Despite extensive economising, costs of increasingly complex regulation and supervision keep on rising.

“Against an annual premium income of between €3.5m-4m, we need to spend at least €500,000m in costs,” she said. “This is absurd and not sustainable.”

However, extending the contract with Aegon would – as a consequence of the current low interest rates and increasing longevity – require contributions to rise of 30%, Schaap said.

Individual DC arrangements are not common with industry-wide schemes, and a DC plan would a first for PGB, which has taken in dozens of smaller pension funds during the past decade.

The new individual DC plan must enable the fishermen to convert their accrued capital into pension rights before their retirement, the union documents indicated.

However, PGB made clear on its website that was assessing whether and how it could implement the desired DC plan.

Meanwhile, Zeevisserij is retaining the option to select another provider if PGB is unable to meet its deadline, Schaap said, who indicated that joining a PPI may be an alternative. 

She also underlined that the board of the fisheries scheme had not taken a decision yet.

That said, another issue is the fact that the fisheries industry lacked a clear link with the printing sector.

Earlier, Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary for social affairs, had asked PGB to exercise maximum restraint in further stretching its scope of action as long as the new pensions vehicle APF didn’t have legal status.

Recently, she said that the APF needed further elaboration and that, as a consequence, it would come into force no sooner than 1 January 2016.

For more on what is driving consolidation in the Dutch pension sector, see IPE’s recent coverage of the matter

PGB could not be contacted for further comment.”