NETHERLANDS – The Dutch wholesale flower and plant sector is to get a new independent defined contribution pension fund.

The move has come about in a new collective labour agreement (or CAO) between the Wholesale Traders Flowers and Plants employers and trade union FNV Bondgenoten.

Up to now, the 20,000 employees in the sector were not able to pay into a pension fund collectively, but had to set up personal arrangements.

Union negotiator Hilgo Nusselder of the FNV said there’s not only a new collective labour agreement for 2004-2007 but also that the demand for a new pension fund would be met.

The main stumbling block, according to the unions, was the fact that it the pension arrangements should be collective.

The area was one of the only sectors in the Netherlands without a collective agreement.

On January 1 2007, the sector will get a DC pension arrangement and an independent pension fund. Employees will take part in the DC arrangements from an age of 21.

Meanwhile, the FNV has proposed a fast track build-up of the AOW, the government organised first pillar pension.

It reckons a 100% AOW should be able to build up in 40 years, instead of the 50 years currently required.

This new proposal should counter current situation that a growing part of Dutch citizens, largely not born in the Netherlands, will have a gap in their basic pension when they are 65.