German unions and employer representatives have urged providers to give them space and time for negotiations on new pension plans.

The social partners have welcomed the new defined contribution plans that are now available under last year’s Betriebsrentenstärkungsgesetz (BRSG) reforms.

Stakeholders at this year’s occupational pension conference hosted by German daily newspaper Handelsblatt in Berlin repeatedly emphasised the phrase “don’t call us, we call you”, with regards to new products being set up.

Under the BRSG these plans, known as Tarifpläne, can only be jointly negotiated and set up by employer and employee representatives (the Tarifparteien) from and for each industry.

“We have to talk to our counterparts in the unions first – only later we will see which structures and vehicles we will use to wrap it in,” said Rainer Dulger, president of the employer association for the metal industry GesamtMetall.

Ralf Sikorski, board member at the union for the mining, chemical and energy industries, added: “The BRSG is not even a year old and the new pension plans will not have to be negotiated to last until the next collective bargaining negotiations but for the long-term.”

These sentiments were seconded by various industry representatives both employers and employees.

Last week, two provider consortiums presented their solutions for vehicles to house the new pension plans. 

However, a representative of the largest German union group Ver.di offered an insight into a potential conflict between the negotiating parties.

Andrea Kocsis, Ver.di

Credit: Dietmar Gust

Andrea Kocsis, Ver.di, speaks at the 2018 Handelsblatt conference in Berlin

Andrea Kocsis, deputy chairperson at Ver.di, said: “We have met with a lot of resistance from employers in SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] when mentioning negotiations about the new pension plans.”

She pointed out that the union group would like to “test” the new defined contribution plans in three industries: commerce, logistics and haulage, and security services.

GesamtMetall’s Dulger said resistance had not been seen in all industries: “SMEs are welcoming the new pension plans as they are competing with larger companies that already have occupational pension offerings.”

The new pension plans – which rid companies of funding liabilities – can help level the playing field for much needed well-trained employees and managers, he said.