NETHERLANDS – The youth branches of three Dutch unions have called for more pensions choices, saying that defined contribution participants must be allowed an individual choice for minimum benefits and retirement age.

United in the PensionsLab, 60 youngsters aired their views on an "acceptable and sustainable" pensions system during a meeting for representatives of the pensions industry in the congress centre of pensions insurer and provider Syntrus Achmea.

The PensionsLab argued that self-employed workers must be incorporated into the second-pillar system against a mandatory contribution to prevent this growing demographic from becoming a problem for society.

They said they supported solidarity through the average pensions premium, but wanted to replace the current average accrual with an age-dependent "degressive" one.

According to the PensionsLab, effective pensions communication should focus on "comprehensible language" – such as through a one-page uniform pensions statement (UPO) with concrete figures rather than extensive explanations.

It also argued that pensions should become a mandatory part of the curriculum in secondary education to increase awareness of the issue.

The think tank claimed pension funds could become more democratic by replacing the current board model with a co-operative one, focusing on the involvement and direct say of participants.

At the moment, the unions as social partners play too prominent a part in the appointment of members of the various bodies within a pension fund, they said, adding that the unions' responsibility should be limited to a supervisory role.

They also recommended that pension funds consider giving up some potential returns in order to increase ESG investments.