NETHERLANDS - Dutch trade unions FNV Bondgenoten and CNV Metaal say they won’t accept a proposal by the management of Stork regarding a refinancing of its pension fund.

Stork, a major Dutch engineering and construction company, has stated that it will pay out €350m to its shareholders.

According to FNV representative Henk Wijninga, Stork’s plan, which includes divestment of assets, is welcomed but the capital should be used to refinance its pension fund too.

Stork’s pension fund is underfunded, since a change in pension arrangements in the 1990s.

The unions have now urged Stork to put part of the cash into the fund, which would dramatically increase its overall coverage ratio. However, the Stork board has refused to do this.

According to the unions, Stork’s decision is not realistic, as both parties involved, employer and employees, are paying 9% extra pension premiums to recover the coverage ratio.

Wijninga stated that the pension premium could be 5% lower with a cash injection.

Meanwhile, Dutch office supplier Buhrmann says it expects to make a net contribution of €4.7m to its pension fund in the fourth quarter, up from €3.2m a year before.