Dutch social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees is confident that employers and unions will soon agree proposals for a new pensions system, despite the fact that the government’s deadline of early April has expired.

In a letter to the Netherlands’ parliament comprising an update of the status of the system reform plans, Koolmees said he expected advice soon “as during the past years, many elements have already been fleshed out and the urgency [of proposals] is undiminished”.

However, large trade union FNV said it was less convinced that the social partners would produce a result in the near future.

“We’ll see whether and when the debate will produce anything,” said Tuur Elzinga, the union’s trustee for pension matters.

He emphasised that his organisation was fighting for “a decent pension for all”.

Tuur Elzinga, FNV

Tuur Elzinga, FNV

Elzinga said that the union would continue its work to preserve the pensions system.

One of the bottlenecks for progress on the reforms is the ongoing debate within the Social and Economic Council (SER) between employers and workers about a new pensions contract.

Although the SER initially indicated that it favoured individual pensions accrual combined with a degree of risk-sharing, the FNV has increased its support for a continuation of collective pension arrangements.

A new contract for pensions in real terms is now also on the negotiation table.

The minister’s letter came at the request of Pieter Omtzigt, MP for the Christian Democrats party (CDA), who reminded Koolmees that the debate about pensions reform had been going on for eight years.

The MP said he wondered what the minister’s optimism was based on, adding that he was disappointed about the social partners’ failure to meet multiple deadlines.

Jetta Klijnsma, Koolmees’s predecessor, first asked for the SER’s advice on pension system reform four years ago.

At the time, she said she wanted to know the SER’s opinion about the future of occupational pensions and the necessary transition route.