NETHERLANDS - A new industry-wide pension scheme for the Dutch flower sellers has been established, pensions provider AZL has announced.

The new pension fund - the Stichting Bedrijfstakpensioenfonds voor de Groothandel in Bloemen en Planten, or Bpf GBP - targets the approximately 15,000 workers and 1,200 employers in the sector, it said.

"It is assumed that approximately 5,000 employees and 400 companies aren't participating in a pension scheme yet," AZL, which will carry out the scheme, added

However, the board of the new scheme expects the potential membership to be much larger. This because it has requested Social Affairs' minister Aart Jan de Geus to make participation mandatory for all the workers to whom the collective labour agreement, or CAO, in the sector applies.

According to AZL, the new pension fund will be a collective defined contribution scheme. It will start as of January 1 2007.

The board of Bpf GBP consists of members representing employers' organisation VGB and the unions CNV Dienstenbond and FNV Bondgenoten. The social partners have been negotiating the scheme for almost four years.

At present, there are approximately 700 pension funds in the Netherlands, down from over a thousand ten years ago.

AZL is a pension fund and asset manager. It carries out schemes for 60 pension funds. Amongst them are two occupational schemes and eight industry-wide pension funds.