Holland’s newest civil service trade union, the AVV, is taking pension fund giant ABP to court, arguing that it discriminates against younger staff. The case revolves around the thorny topic of early retirement.

The AVV argues that it is discriminatory to make younger civil servants pay towards early retirement schemes for those over 56, while they themselves will have to work longer. They have a point. There is nothing more galling than waving an older colleague bye-bye and knowing you are helping to pay for him or her to quit work early – especially when you will never be able to.
Yet the AVV’s irritation hits at the heart of the Dutch concept of solidarity in all things to do with social policy. Everyone pays towards schools because we all benefit and we pay higher health insurance premiums than our health status requires because we are helping to pay for those who are sick.
But early retirement is being phased out. The government, unions and employers have come up with all sorts of ways to try and lessen the pain. Nevertheless, for the next few years at least, you may well be paying hundreds of euros a month to let Annie from the accounts department quit work at 56, while you will probably have to keep on working until you are at least 67.

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