Will they, won’t they agree on pensions?

With the October 1 deadline looming, it is still unclear if unions and employers on the government’s SER advisory committee will come up with an alternative to ministers’ plans to increase the state pension age from 65 to 67 and save €4bn.

Newspapers are divided in their reporting on the final days of negotiations. ‘A SER alternative is close,’ is the headline in Trouw. But the Telegraaf says ‘pension talks fail’.
News agency ANP is reporting on yet another alternative proposal, this time from employers. It says the two employer organisations VNO-NCW and MKB Nederland have suggested the pension age be increased in one go from 65 to 67 in 15 years time.
‘Everyone who is now over the age of 50 would retire at the age of 65 as normal,’ it quotes the employers as saying. An increase in the pension age is ‘unavoidable,’ ANP quotes them as saying.
‘Soon there will be two people in work for every pensioner. At the moment there are four,’ the Telegraaf quoted VNO-NCW chairman Bernard Wientjes as saying.
Ministers gave SER until the end of September to come up with an alternative for their plan to phase in an increase in the pension age.
Unions are concerned about the effect of the increase on people doing heavy physical labour. And employers want the rise to apply to corporate pensions as well.
MPs are also divided on the planned increase. The Socialist Party has so far collected over 100,000 signatures on a petition to keep the retirement age unchanged at 65.
Others want more effort to reduce the number of people taking early retirement. Only one in seven of the over-60s in the Netherlands is still in work.
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