Trade union members back pension reforms, now the real work can start

Members of the two biggest Dutch trade union groups FNV and CNV have thrown their weight behind plans to reform the pension system, agreed between unions, employers and ministers earlier this month.

The union approval clears the way for ministers to decide how to implement the changes, which are aimed at ensuring pensions can remain affordable into the future. The negotiations started some nine years ago.

Almost 75% of the NV and 79% of CNV members backed the plans, which will also slightly slow down the speed at which the state pension is rising and make early retirement more possible.

The state pension (AOW) age will now be frozen at 66 years four months for the next two years and will then rise in stages to 67 by 2024. After that, the state retirement age will be linked to life expectancy.

People will also be able to retire up to three years early. This measure is particularly aimed at people in physically demanding jobs.

Prime minister Mark Rutte said the union votes are ‘good news’ for the Netherlands and the measures go a long way to meeting everyone’s wishes. He said that he hoped that draft legislation revising the state pension age would be put through as soon as possible.

What does the new pension agreement really mean?

However, freelancers’ lobby groups are furious that the plan includes forcing everyone who is self employed to take out insurance to cover loss of earnings if they become unable to work. Nearly 16,000 have so far signed a petition calling for a rethink.

Social affairs minister Wouter Koolmees has said the plan for the transition to a new pensions system should be completed by the end of 2020 and that the cabinet aims to complete the legal framework for system reform by the start of 2022.

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