THE NETHERLANDS – Social Affairs Minister Wouter Koolmees has told MPs that he wants to resume talks with unions and employers on reforming the Dutch pension system.
The talks collapsed in November after the unions walked out, saying the cabinet was not prepared to do enough to meet their demands on the state pension age. ‘The need to make new agreements about our pensions system remains as big as ever,’ Koolmees said in the briefing.
He also said the cabinet ‘sees room to be less stringent about the link between the state pension age and life expectancy’ – which has been one of the main stumbling blocks. Public transport workers held a nationwide strike on Tuesday in support of their campaign for a slowdown in the retirement age increase.
The government’s insistence that the state retirement age go up to 67 and beyond in line with life expectancy has divided the negotiators, with unions saying there needs to be more room for some workers to retire up to five years earlier.
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.
Both the unions and employers have welcomed Koolmees’ olive branch. A union spokesman said he expects the talks to resume after the weekend break.