Trade unions and employer organisations in the Netherlands agreed last year to bring labour conditions of temporary workers in line with those working for the same firms on a permanent basis. But they disagree on the question whether pension is part of the deal.

The initial agreement between trade unions and employer organisations, dating back to June 2021, calls for an improved pension arrangement for tempers which is in line with “the market average”.

At this moment, temporary workers enjoy a minimal pension arrangement at Stipp pension fund, with contributions of only 2.6% of pensionable salary, though this will be increased to 7-8% as of next year.

Workers with continued employment of more than 78 weeks get contributions of 12% of pensionable salary, though this is still below the market average.

47% more members for Stipp

At the start of 2022, the waiting time for temporary workers before starting to accrue pensions was reduced by law from 26 weeks to 8 weeks.

The change led to a 47% rise of active members for €2bn Stipp pension fund, to 438.000.

The new additions, however, also caused a fall in average total accruals per member from €1,988 to €1,775.

The rise in membership is a reversal of a multi-year trend. Between 2018 and 2021, the fund’s membership had declined steadily from 374,000 to 300,000.

Last year, unions and employers also agreed that temporary workers will be entitled to labour conditions that are “at least equal” to those of staff of the company they are seconded to by the temp agency they work for.

However, discussions on the implementation of the agreement have stalled, according to Zakaria Boufangacha, vice president of trade union FNV.

“We have not yet agreed to disagree, but it is a very difficult discussion,” he said.


Zakaria Boufangacha, FNV

Pensions are the bone of contention. “We had come to an agreement with the employers that competition on labour conditions by using cheaper workers via temp agencies had to stop, but I’m starting to get a feeling now that the employers are trying to renegotiate the agreement,” said Boufangacha.

“An important reason for employers to prefer temporary workers, is that pension costs are often considerably lower. However, employers now want to treat pension separately even though pensions are part of the terms of employment. This is the issue we disagree on,” he added.


A spokesperson for employers union ABU declined to answer questions from IPE on the matter, saying that the implementation of last year’s agreement “is part of negotiations about the collective labour agreement”.

However, this seems in contradiction with the aforementioned agreement which states that the changes to improve labour conditions for temporary workers must be enshrined in law.

Boufangacha said he has made “a number of proposals” to compensate temporary workers if their pension accruals are lower than those of the employees to the company they have been seconded to.

According to the FNV vice president, the easiest solution would be to compensate temprorary workers financially to bridge the gap between their pension arrangement with Stipp and the pension arrangement of permanent workers at the company they have been seconded to.

“It would be possible to do say by paying more salary or make an extra payment in the second or third pillar. But employers have so far refused to talk about this option,” Boufangacha said.

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