NETHERLANDS - Dutch trade union FNV Bondgenoten has called for a rethink of the new pension contract currently being negotiated between employers and employees, objecting to the "transfer of all risks to workers".

In a letter to fellow unions and the FNV Federation, Henk van der Kolk, the union's chairman, who is directly involved in the negotiations, said: "A model with fully conditional existing and new pension rights is undesirable. Although we do agree existing and new rights should be merged into one regime, already accrued pension rights should be left untouched."

He said the discussed changes did not offer more certainty to older participants nearing retirement or low-income workers.

Van der Kolk, who represents nearly half a million workers in the market sector, also stressed that his union wanted a contributions freeze to apply only to the effect of rising longevity.

He added that shifting all risks to participants would lead to an "undesirable discussion" about mandatory participation in pension funds.

FNV Bondgenoten believes that a slight adjustment of the Financial Assessment Framework (FTK) for less certainty on pensions would be acceptable.

Van der Kolk said: "This will allow for a 'normal' investment policy at pension funds and good opportunities for indexation as a result."

José Kager, spokeswoman at FNV Bondgenoten, added: "The FNV Federation must mark time in its negotiations with the employers, as soft pension rights are an impassable road to us."

Bondgenoten's sister union, AbvaKabo, said it would consult its 360,000 members about any result.

However, the union for civil servants and healthcare workers said it did not want pension rights to be eroded by conditional pension claims, but rather risks to be evenly shared by employers and employees.

The discussions about a new pension contract are part of wider negotiations about a Pension Agreement that also includes a rise of the official retirement age, linking the state pension AOW to salaries and measures to keep older workers employed for longer.