Kleinmetaal (middle and small companies) has been confronted by their pension fund, the Pension Fund for Metalworking and Mechanical Engineering, or Pensioenfonds Metaal en Techniek, which has raised the pre-pension age to 60 from 55 in a bid to save e2bn in extra costs.
Unions agreed to the shift “with pain in their heart”. The move represents the first casualty of the Dutch government’s proposal to cut the pre-pension arrangements. The decision will mean around 340,000 employees at 31,000 companies having to work longer, without having the choice to retire early at 55.
The decision of the pension fund - which it blamed on the government - has been made due to the potentially disastrous effects of increased early retirement of their subscribers the coming months.
According to the pension fund, the need to change the date of early retirement was forced upon them by the fact that the pension arrangements of the fund were not set up for an immediate mass early retirement before the age of 60.
Bert van de Belt, director of the pension fund, says if no action was taken a wave of new pensioners would have threatened its existence. A drastic change of strategy was needed, van de Belt comments.
PME says that if the change hadn’t happened immediately, then it would have been confronted by an extra pension cost of e2bn in 2004.
This would have caused severe financial stress on the fund, forcing it not only to increase overall pension contributions but also to lower or even end indexation directly.
Nathalie Koopmans, spokeswoman of FNV Bondgenoten, the largest Dutch trade union, says that the unions have agreed “with pain in their heart” to support the decision.
She blames the government for the decision, stating that their plans could have resulted in extremely high early pension subscriptions in sunbsequent months. “We could not do anything else,” she says. In principle, the trade unions are still against later retirement, but the government currently has the upper hand.
The trade unions, however, will still support the fact that employees have the choice when to take retirement. The current rigorous approach of the Dutch government will not only lead to growing discrepancies between funds, but also will result in increased social unrest, the trade unions stated.