2018 is in many ways a special year. The announced split of AkzoNobel has led to the transformation of VMHP AkzoNobel to VMHP Chemicals and Coatings.
For the future the individual and collective service of the union is warranted. With that also the representation in the Pension Fund APF is arranged. All changes at AkzoNobel and Nouryon have put a lot of pressure on our members. It could be noticed from excuses to attend meetings of our union. Many meetings had to be digital, since physical attendance was problematic (busy, busy, busy…).
Halfway this year Gerhard Setz ended his role as secretary. We found Yannick Dziechciarek as successor. To reinforce the board we still are looking for another two members, preferentially one from Nouryon and one from AkzoNobel.
At the board meeting of December 18, 2018 Jeroen Nijënstein of Nouryon attended as candidate for the board. Beginning 2019 the Members Council can decide about this. So we are still searching for an AkzoNobel candidate. Extension of the board is required to better spread activities and therefore time load.
The year started with perils in the area of our pension. Our pension fund is the most grey fund of The Netherlands. All sales of large parts of the company have made the fund grey: retired colleagues of the sold parts continued to enjoy their pension rights. Add to this, that the government has changed the rules. Also the financial crisis of 2008 has had big negative impact.
In the past the saying was “Pension is a matter of thrust”. When in 2005 the fund was made independent the agreements
- “If the fund gets into heavy weather AkzoNobel is not away..”
- “When more than 10% of the company is split off the position of the pension fund will be considered and a solution will be sought for low coverage”
have been omitted by the ever changing employers delegations.
The negotiation process with AkzoNobel got stuck. The members of the unions saw no other way out than to start actions. The actual split October 1, 2018 meant, that from that moment negotiations took place at two tables. There were a lot of informal deliberations, sometimes even during the night or during the weekends, trying to find a way out. This has not led to a principle agreement, but to a “Negotiation result” with Nouryon and to a “Final bid” with AkzoNobel. The whole process has taken a lot of time, people at sites have been heavily intimidated, communication of unions with their members has been frustrated and a lot of tension mounted up between colleagues.
From the actual date of the split it stayed difficult to find a way out at AkzoNobel, while at Nouryon there was a constructive way searching for openings.
At Nouryon there is ample support for the CLA. At AkzoNobel the support is just a bit above half.
Looking to the future we are searching with a working party at Nouryon for possibilities to start indexing the pension rights again. Let’s hope this results in realistic solutions.
Considering the lowering degree of coverage also this year there will probably be no indexation of the pension rights. As a result at the end of 2018 the arrears in pension rights for active members will amount to 9 to 10% and for retired members about 16%.
At AkzoNobel the successor of reorganization “Horizon” is near. Profit has to be maximized. AhzoNobel has to get to the top of the market. As a consequence jobs are lost. Stock holders are the most important. The arising problems at the workers level seem out of sight. The program “Proud people” starts. Such program is needed, since I notice motivation of a lot of colleagues has gone down to a minimum.
It is very important for all to put one’s back into it to make AkzoNobel and Nouryon successful and to have “fun on the job” again.
Rests to wish you all nice holidays, a prosperous 2019 and good health.
Loek van Driel
Chairman VMHP Chemicals & Coatings.