Waterbouw, the €1.1bn pension fund for the Dutch maritime construction sector, is considering its future as an independent scheme.

Member companies and employees are now looking into whether the accrual of pension rights should remain with the pension fund, according to Lea van Vlier, secretary for the social partners.

Kitty Roozemond, Waterbouw’s recently appointed chair, said the pension fund, which is responsible for existing pension rights, was preparing itself for the implementation of a number of different scenarios. 

The social partners and trustees decided last year to maintain the pension fund’s independence after a study concluded that placing Waterbouw’s pensions with another scheme or an insurer would fail to satisfy all parties.

The decision, however, was a temporary one, according to Van Vlier, “as the social partners could not agree on the direction at the time”.

Van Vlier, who declined to provide further details on the differing opinions, said the investigation into the scheme’s options came as a consequence of the nationwide debate on the viability of smaller pension funds.

“It is a sensitive issue, and there is a lot of emotion,” she said.

“Many participants are proud having their own pension fund.”

According to the scheme’s annual report, the parties involved have agreed that a solution will be implemented on 1 January 2017.

Roozemond, who has chaired Waterbouw since September, said the pension fund was preparing for various scenarios but had to wait for decisions from the social partners before any implementation could begin.

She said many scenarios were possible, as, in addition to the mandatory plan for the 1,000 workers in the Netherlands, there were three voluntary arrangements for 2,000 employees abroad.

Previous negotiations to merge with BpfBouw, the €47bn scheme for the Dutch building industry, broke down, as did talks with PGB and Koopvaardij, due to differences over investment policy.

Waterbouw has approximately 12,000 workers, former workers and pensioners, affiliated with 70 employers.