NETHERLANDS - The Dutch Pensions Agreement between the social partners and the government has suffered a major setback, as the unions within the main representative organisation, the FNV Federation, failed to find common ground on three important issues.
In the opinion of the main opponents - the largest market sector union FNV Bondgenoten and the civil service union AbvaKabo - employers must continue to share risks, and social affairs minister Henk Kamp must provide more clarity about the rules for the management of pension assets.
In addition, they have demanded that low-paid workers in difficult manual labour continue to be able to retire at 65, without their pension benefits being cut.
Today, Agnes Jongerius, the federation's chairwoman, will discuss the changes in the pension deal that the FNV deems necessary.
According to the unions' umbrella organisation, Jongerius will ask the minister for compromise measures, such as the guarantee that workers who are currently participating in the tax-friendly life course - or 'levensloop' - scheme, are able to continue saving for early retirement.
Workers on lower incomes must also be allowed to save enough to avoid an income gap when they retire at 65, the FNV said.
In the initial Pensions Agreement - negotiated by Jongerius - the social partners and the ministers agreed on linking the retirement age for the state pension AOW to life expectancy, as well as a subsequent rise to 66 in 2020, and most likely to 67 in 2025.
AOW benefits will increase by an additional 0.6% a year from 2013, and the AOW will become flexible. However, a discount and additional benefits will apply for earlier or later retirement, respectively, than the standard age, the stakeholders concurred.
The social partners and the minister agreed that additional pensions would be linked with the accrual of pension rights to developments on the financial markets.
They also agreed that older workers would be kept active through measures aimed at raising their availability, education, labour conditions and mobility.
Earlier, Kamp said he was unwilling to renegotiate the Pensions Agreement and would implement the government's own bill, without the earlier concessions to employers and employees.
Pension funds are disappointed about the delay in getting clarity about the new pension system and fear further delay for the implementation of new measures, which was scheduled for 1 January 2013.
Peter Borgdorff, director of the €98bn healthcare scheme PFZW, said: "Every day we don't spent on solving the longevity problem is a lost day. I now hope we can introduce the new measures on 1 January 2014."
Hans van der Windt, director of the €23bn metal scheme PME, also said his pension fund was waiting for clarity before it started implementing anything.
However, Guus Wouters of the €37bn metal scheme PMT said he was expecting flexibility from the social affairs minister on the remaining problems in the Pensions Agreement, as he needs to "provide a proper solution for hard jobs because the issue is important to parliament as well".