It’s been a while since the start of 2019, giving me time to look back a moment to 2018. 2018 was a turbulent year with many changes for the colleagues at AkzoNobel and Nouryon.

During numerous deliberations, first with AkzoNobel and later with AkzoNobel and Nouryon it was tried to reach a CLA with an inflation-proof pension. All along it was tried to keep in contact, but it is hard to sit facing a delegation, which seems to have wiped the word “pension” from the vocabulary.

At some moments this made it unfortunately inevitable to come into action.

Given a total of around € 3 billion gone to the British pension funds is a violent contrast to even refusing a loan to the Dutch pension fund. This is even more smarting if you realize that these contributions were done to a virtually closed British pension fund (March 2018 only 200 active participants compared to 49.000 sleepers and retired), of which more than 95% profit, while they never have been employed by AkzoNobel. Add to this the yearly indexation of 3%, while the coverage got below 100%. The coverage deficiency of the UK pension funds has mounted up to several hundreds of British Pounds.

Then you see that making great play with IFRS accounting rules and DC doesn’t make sense. AkzoNobel is traumatized by UK-pensions and blocks every discussion with the word “pension”.

In 2018 the arrears in pension increased again by a couple of percent to about 8.5% for AkzoNobel colleagues and 9% for Nouryon colleagues. The arrears of retired colleagues is now more than 16%. Since the average pension contribution, agreed for a period of 5 years, is already a couple of years too low, financing the pension buildup for active goes at the cost of sleepers and retired.

The indexation of British retired amounted in the last 10 years about 40%.

During last year both employers have at several moments frustrated the communication between the unions and their members and intimidated several colleagues. At the same time there unions were imputed that the basis for the standpoints of the union members was limited.

Given the difference in communication options between employer and unions many colleagues had no clear perception of the facts around the CLA and the pension. At AkzoNobel there is now a new initiative, where AkzoNobel facilitates the communication to all colleagues. It’s about broadening the basis for deliberations about labor conditions, where it seems necessary to emphasize that this is not an AkzoNobel initiative and not an initiative of the works council. I prefer an open and honest communication from both unions and employers.

Members of VMHP Chemicals and Coatings determine themselves the course to go. At the start of the CLA-process we ask the members what is important for them, This we put forward at the CLA-deliberations and the members vote by common majority about the result. The more colleagues join the greater the basis.

At this moment work is done to complete both CLA’s. At Nouryon the choice for profit share is left and at AkzoNobel we still wait for propositions about the profit share.

As soon as the CLA at Nouryon is complete the pension commission starts. The intention of this commission is to investigate in which way the pensions can become inflation proof again.

Loek van Driel