The members of parliament for the largest Dutch trade union, FNV, have at last agreed to the pensions accord cementing a switch to defined contribution (DC) arrangements. On Saturday, the 105-member parliament voted to endorse the accord by a 62% majority.
The FNV was supposed to have given its approval two weeks ago, but postponed the vote to 4 July because of strong opposition to an online meeting among members, many of whom refused to log on to the online meeting in June so it could not be held.
Since 1 July, physical meetings have been once again allowed in the Netherlands provided social distancing is being observed.
The meeting dragged on almost the entire day because of fierce opposition to the pension plans from some radical union members. Technical issues also caused delays, as some members took part by video link.
After having agreed to the text of the pensions accord, the parliament members’ voted in favour of a motion requiring the trade union to devote maximum efforts to speeding up the transition to the new DC arrangements, which the FNV board agreed to.
Many union members fear pensions cuts during the so-called transition phase to the new system, which is supposed to last until 2026. During this period, current rules on required minimum funding ratios will remain in place.
A second motion by the parliament called for additional indexation for pensioners to make up for the many years of lost indexation for most Dutch pensioners since the geat financial crisis.
In response, the trade union board said it will pay attention to the “justified demand” for balanced indexation for all generations during the transition phase.
Reacting to the FNV decision to agree with the pensions accord, Social Affairs Minister Wouter Koolmees spoke of a “huge step towards a more personal and more transparent pensions system.”
“It’s great there is now broad support among both employers and employees. There’s a very happy minister standing in front of you,” he told journalists in The Hague.
Dutch parliament’s Second Chamber, the country’s main legislative body, will debate the pensions accord on 14 July and will then design a new pensions law which is supposed to come into force in January 2021. Pension funds will then have until 2026 to implement the changes.
Mr Koolmees said pension funds do not need to wait till next year to make a start on this, however. “They can already start preparing for the transition, for example by modernising their pensions arrangements and IT structure,” he said.