NETHERLANDS - The pensions dialogue between the central works council and management at oil giant Shell Nederland is deadlocked – with unions talking about possible strike action.

According to representatives of the council, COR, and the trade unions, which both have taken part in the pension committee which is currently discussing the firm’s pension arrangements, no dialogue is possible as long as management does not improve its current proposals.

Egbert Schellenberg, trade union negotiator of FNV Bondgenoten, said the major stumbling block is that the company is not willing to improve current proposals related to pension age, premiums and possible fiscal adjustments of pension arrangements.

He told IPE that Shell needs to use to its maximum the fiscal possibilities of the Dutch pension system, in which people can save more than 70% of final salary, to take a pension earlier. Fiscal rules make it possible to increase pension savings up to 80%, which leaves room for an earlier retirement.

He said this is not being accommodated by Shell, which in reality leads to an early retirement date of 61-62.5 years at the earliest.

According to Schellenberg, Shell has only given 3% payment by the company in the so-called ‘Levensloop’ lifecycle scheme, while employees need to pay themselves 2%.

And another bone of contention is that Shell has proposed increasing the pension age from 60 to 65, with the exception of people older than 55. The trade unions don’t agree with the increase of pension age.

Shell spokesman Henk Bonder admitted the dialogue was in deadlock – although he said the management want to come to a solution.

The union’s Schellenberg said that there could be further action on the table if Shell does not propose new changes before a meeting due on June 3.

The potential breaking point could be June 21 when all issues should be solved. He has indicated that possible strikes could become a possibility after the summer.