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E-Quality suggests solution to retired migrant poverty

NETHERLANDS - A mandatory pension for every worker could help to provide migrants with a reasonable pension at retirement, E-Quality, the Dutch knowledge centre for emancipation, family and diversity, has claimed.

Joan Ferrier, chair of E-Quality, suggested in ABP's Our World magazine, reforms may be need to give migrants based in the Netherlands an improved income at retirement as they are less likely to have accumulated any pension assets before arriving in the country.

"[Migrants'] income is usually poor after the age of 65, said Ferrier.

"They usually do not get the full state pension AOW, and often receive a small additional pension, or even none at all. Many newcomers, and women in particular, work in jobs that do not come with proper pensions," she added.

According to Ferrier, part of the solution would be to lower the franchise, the part of the salary that is excluded from the build-up of a pension, and over which workers do not pay contributions.

In addition, workers should be told at an earlier stage about a looming pension shortfall, to allow them to start saving extra money or take out an additional pension, the E-Quality chair indicated.

According to figures of the social security bank SVB, just 15 Turkish and 7 Moroccan pensioners - out of over 10,000 of each ethnic group - received a full state pension last year.

Ferrier also stressed the importance of diversity within pension funds' boards.

"The members should not only consist of white men, but also be made up of black people and migrant men as well as women, because they are aware of the importance of information," she said.

However, Peter Borgdorff, the director of the Association of Industry-wide Pension Fnds (VB) doesn't entirely agree with Ferrier. "Board members only carry out a scheme, and are supposed to represent the interests of all participants," he responded. "Of course, it helps if all members feel that they are properly represented."

According to Borgdorff, it is up to the organisations of employers and employees to nominate pension fund's board members.

"VB is actively promoting women in its activities, because they have different antennae. Ethnic minorities could follow in a later stage."

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