During the holidays it is already some time quiet around CLA and pension. This is going to change. The deliberations and communication with AkzoNobel proceed curiously Several times we could read the response of AkzoNobel in the FD. Mediation or even a discussion about reinforcing the pension fund seem far away. In the past the motto was “Pension is a matter of thrust”. On the side of AkzoNobel this cannot be recognized anymore. Around 2015 AkzoNobel has appropriated without any deliberation € 641 million pension contribution, formerly deposited in the Pension Equalization Provision (PEV). This PEV was set up at a time that the pension fund was in a good shape and AkzoNobel needed to reinforce its balance position. When the pension fund after the crisis needed this money, the PEV didn’t exist anymore and AkzoNobel was not willing to make this pension contribution available. Furthermore there was an agreement that in case of sale of a large part of the company the consequences for the employees would be discussed with the unions. One of the issues is, what has to be done when the pension fund doesn’t have enough coverage. The pension fund has communicated to the participants, that the coverage is not sufficient and € 588 million is required to solve this problem. Because of the insufficient coverage the pension fund is in the process of a recovery plan according to the rules of the DNB. The pension fund doesn’t show the progress as required by the recovery plan. The prospect is that the indexation arrears accumulate more and that even pension reduction might be needed. Both active and retired members will be struck. The negative effect could mount up to tens of percent. Serious deliberations and discussion about reinforcing the pension fund are obstructed by AkzoNobel. Even former CEO’s Loudon and van Leede publicly participated in this discussion. That is unique in Dutch history. Coming time we will have to find a solution. I hope AkzoNobel will show willingness to find a solution for reinforcing the pension fund.
For many people sustainable employability is an important subject. There is a lot of talk about this subject, but no tangible agreements have been reached in the CLA. People are worried about the steadily increasing pressure at work. More work has to be done with less people. There is no succession for leaving colleagues. Discussion with colleagues show, that this puts heavy pressure on motivation. This is becoming extra heavy for older colleagues, having to keep up till the higher pension age.
At short notice solutions are required. I hope there will be deliberations to bring things compromising to a good end.
Loek van Driel
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