NETHERLANDS - A court ruling has favoured employees in their pension dispute against Energy research Centre of the Netherlands (ECN) and the Nuclear Research Group (NRG).

The verdict of the Court of Alkmaar in North Holland means ECN and NRG could be confronted with financial problems.

The court ruled that ECN was not legally permitted to not index pensions during 2003-2005.

According to the court, ECN's pension arrangements state that there is a compulsory indexation obligation to members.

This has led to a large financial deficit in the pension fund (Centraal Beheer Achmea) - with ECN now being ordered by the court to put in additional financing. 

ECN has indicated that it would appeal against the verdict. A spokesman said that "if the claim has to be paid, it will have to be paid out of ECN's own capital".

And unnamed sources have indicated ECN may have to inject some €11m into the scheme.

According to ECN's 2005 annual report, it only has a capital of €9.7m. The spokesman indicated that the total payment should be possible, based on former and current financial results of the company.

"We are making profits so capital should be increased in comparison to 2005", he indicated.

Since March 2006, ECN has proposed a defined contribution pension arrangement. According to ECN, the proposal is still under discussion. 

The current pension fund arrangements have €281m in assets against €283m in liabilities.