The members of two of the Netherlands’ largest trade unions have endorsed the pensions agreement struck between the social partners and the government earlier this month.

The announcement from unions FNV and CNV means that the pensions sector can start implementing elements of the pensions agreement, including adjusting policies relating to benefit cuts and informing their members.

The FNV’s member parliament approved the deal based on the support of three quarters of the members who voted. Of its 1m members, 37% participated in the ballot.

Of the CNV’s members, 79% voted in favour of the agreement. The smaller unions, VCP and De Unie, are expected to announce their opinions on the agreement later today.

Tuur Elzinga, the FNV’s lead negotiator, said he was very pleased with the result: “The heavy burden of years of negotiating has finally come off our shoulders.”

In his opinion, the result was also good news for the pensions sector “as much uncertainty has disappeared”.

The pensions agreement reached by unions, employers and the government comprised an agreement to slow down planned increases to the retirement age for the state pension (AOW) by three years, to reach 67 in 2024.

Currently, the AOW retirement age stands at 66 years and four months.

The government promised it would ease the rules for cuts to benefits and pension rights by reducing the minimum required funding ratio for pension funds from 104.2% to 100%.

The agreement also provided early retirement options for workers in physically demanding jobs.

The parties also agreed to create a dedicated steering group to flesh out a new pensions contract, as well as how the current average pensions accrual method will be replaced with a degressive method.

The Dutch cabinet is to debate the pensions agreement on Wednesday.