NETHERLANDS - The Dutch Parliament is set to discuss the prospect of rights cuts at 14 pension funds with social affairs minister Piet Hein Donner during an emergency debate on Tuesday.

Paul Ulenbelt, the socialist party MP who organised the meeting, said Donner should spell out, to avoid panic among workers and pensioners, exactly which pension funds are likely to cut benefits and rights.

Ulenbelt said he opposed the cuts and that employers and even workers should plug financial gaps.

If needed, he said, the government should ultimately step in with "loans and guarantees".

"If we can save banks and guarantee Greece's financial liabilities, we can't let the elderly down," he said.

Meanwhile, the Association of Industry-wide Pension Funds (VB) has called on the 14 funds to inform their participants as soon as possible about the likelihood of rights cuts.

Peter Gortzak, vice-chairman of the FNV, the largest union, said: "The picture painted by minister Donner and regulator De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) is spreading panic.

"Although a limited number of small pension funds are in a serious position, the large majority do not need to cut benefits.

"The DNB and the schemes must first look at alternatives, such as raising contributions or additional contributions by employers."

The large consumers' organisation Consumentenbond also called for "immediate clarity" for workers and pensioners about the effects of possible cuts, while ANBO, the pensioners lobbying body, attributed low coverage ratios in the wake of low interest rates to the financial problems of the PIIGS countries.

On its website, the ANBO said: "But we mustn't give the impression pension cuts are caused by financial mismanagement of southern European governments."

And the NBP - the small but vocal lobbying organisation of pensioners - demanded an inquiry into the matter, as many pension funds' boards have made "big mistakes".