Early retirement door open to restart pension reform talks

Photo: DutchNews.nl
Photo: DutchNews.nl

The cabinet is prepared to talk about a more flexible retirement age for individuals doing heavy manual labour in an effort to kickstart negotiations on reforming the pension system, the Volkskrant and Telegraaf said on Monday.

The government’s insistence that the state retirement age go up to 67 is one of the main issues which divide the negotiators, with unions saying there needs to be more room for some workers to retire up to five years earlier.

According to the Volkskrant, social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees is now prepared to lower the fine that employers would have to pay if a worker retires early. The fine is viewed by the government as compensation for lost premium income.

Talks between unions and employers on reforming the Dutch pension system collapsed in November after the three big unions pulled out. They say the government is not doing enough to meet their demands for a slower rise in the official retirement age – which is going up in line with life expectancy projections and is set to reach 67 by 2021.

Experts believe that the Dutch pension system – a combination of a state pension (AOW) and corporate pension schemes – needs to be reformed because the aging population is putting more pressure on the current pension system and pension funds are having to pay out to more people for longer.

The rise in self-employment is also having an impact, with fewer people paying into company and sector-wide schemes.

Talks on reform began several years ago. On Tuesday public transport workers will hold a nationwide strike in support of the unions’ position, with industry set to be hit by action on Wednesday.

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