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Netherlands

Background information on industrial relations in Netherlands

  • 17 Dec 2009
    Netherlands: Social partners divided over government plan to raise retirement age

    The social partners have given a divided response to the Dutch cabinet’s plans to raise the retirement age – first to 66 years in 2020 and then to 67 years in 2025. This also applies to the age at which company pension schemes will be paid out. The trade unions argue that poorly paid workers who carry out heavy tasks will be unjustly burdened by these measures. Employer representatives, on the other hand, are satisfied with the proposed cutbacks on company pension schemes.

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Netherlands: CNV Dienstenbond proposes more employee influence in companies

    The CNV Services Federation plans to increase employee influence within companies, in order to secure continuity for companies and a better balance of mutual interests. It proposes raising the number of employee supervisory directors on management boards, introducing a loyalty dividend and improving strategic communication between the executive and shop floor levels. The first company eligible for the power shift is ABN Amro/Fortis, which was partly nationalised in 2008.

  • 22 Sep 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Steel industry – Netherlands

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the steel industry in the Netherlands. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 18 Sep 2009
    The Netherlands – Greening the European economy: responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners

    In reaction to the recession, the Cabinet has announced extra measures to stimulate the economy, including several ‘green’ measures. All major green issues are covered by the tripartite Social and Economic Council. All in all, the government and the social partners are in agreement on the agenda, but recently the social partners are critical on the speed with which the government operates. Employers reject interference in company affairs.

  • 16 Sep 2009
    Netherlands: Social partners agree wage increase despite economic crisis

    In the latest collective agreements, the social partners agreed on an average wage increase in line with the inflation rate of 1%–1.5%. Meanwhile, the Central Planning Office emphasises that wage moderation could be counterproductive in light of the serious economic downturn facing the Netherlands. Employers in construction, however, demonstrate that they are thinking beyond the recession and want to remain attractive for young workers, by agreeing a wage increase of 2%.

  • 15 Sep 2009
    The Netherlands: Flexicurity and industrial relations

    The Flexibility and Security Act is the most illustrative example of flexicurity policy in the Netherlands. The involvement of the social partners in the policy making process that led to this act and their role in its implementation is very substantial. The Act has led to more flexibility because of the acceptance of flexwork in the Dutch labour market. The Act also regulated protective rules for flexworkers to enhance income and employment security. In this text also other examples are described that fit in the flexicurity concept, although these are not labelled as ‘flexicurity’ by the industrial relations actors themselves. ‘Flexicurity’ is mostly linked to the debate on flexibilisation of dismissal law. This debate illustrates the best the social partners’ positions.

  • 30 Jul 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Tanning and leather sector – Netherlands

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the tanning and leather sector in the Netherlands. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 13 Jul 2009
    Netherlands: Pay increase in hospitals and special provisions for older employees

    The collective agreement concluded in April 2009 for hospital staff overrides the zero policy on wage increases and contains innovative provisions for older employees. The two-year agreement encompasses an annual pay rise of 1%, as well as an increasing end-of-year bonus. Age-linked schemes will be converted into uniform schemes for all employees. Engaging older employees at the weekend and for evening shifts will be compensated through a personal time budget.

  • 13 Jul 2009
    Netherlands: Trade unions place new demands on part-time unemployment scheme

    A new scheme took effect in April 2009 enabling companies to apply for part-time unemployment benefit for some of their employees. Trade unions in the sectors most affected by the global economic crisis are now making supplementary demands, including topping up benefits to equal 100% of the salary level. Employer organisations are unhappy with these demands. In response, the government has suggested setting up a mediation telephone hotline.

  • 13 Jul 2009
    Netherlands: Pension fund reserves hard hit by economic crisis

    Of all EU countries, the Netherlands has the most extensive occupational pension scheme. Almost all pension funds have suffered major losses due to the economic crisis and coverage ratios have fallen considerably. While the legislator is calling for coverage ratios to be swiftly rectified, the social partners assert that this will take more time. Coverage ratios can be raised in different ways, with varied effects for the parties involved.

  • 02 Jul 2009
    The Netherlands: Multinational companies and collective bargaining

    The Netherlands had a relatively early start as a home country for MNCs and, more generally, has a long tradition of being a very open economy. A large group of MNCs has its own company agreement, but that there is also a sizable group covered by sector agreement. The proportion of company agreements for MNCs is higher than the national average.Most foreign MNCs seem to have no trouble with the Dutch system of industrial relations. The exception are MNCs based in the USA and Japan, which try to keep the unions out. Instead, they do business with their works councils.

  • 29 Jun 2009
    Netherlands: Prevalence of part-time work impedes women’s career path

    For 2008, it has again been revealed that 75% of all women working in the Netherlands hold part-time jobs and are satisfied with this. The ‘Deeltijd-Plus’ government committee was set up to develop policy directed at women aspiring to work longer hours. Although women now wish to work an average of five hours more a week, employers appear to provide little incentive to do so. Since early 2009, the number of women in upper management positions in companies is stagnating.

  • 11 May 2009
    Netherlands: Social partners support cabinet’s crisis package

    The social partners have finally agreed to support the crisis package proposed by the Dutch cabinet. However, their support is conditional on the mutual agreement that trade unions will only put forward modest wage demands and that employers would not raise the issue of adjusting the current retirement age of 65 years without due consideration. The Dutch cabinet has allocated €6 billion to maintain spending levels and infrastructural investment.

  • 11 May 2009
    Netherlands: Green light for deregulated postal services market

    By concluding a collective agreement with the new postal companies Sandd and Selekt Mail, the Allied Unions and Abvakabo FNV trade unions believe that the conditions necessary for swiftly deregulating the postal services market have been met. The Dutch cabinet and House of Representatives are in agreement. With effect from 1 April 2009, the postal services market is now fully deregulated. This development is set to open the Dutch market to European competition for a global market.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    The Netherlands: wage flexibility and collective bargaining

    In the Netherlands, the incidence of variable payments systems (VPS) and performance-related pay (PRP) gradually increases. Most forms of VPS are covered by collective bargaining, with the exception of share and option schemes. Virtually all agreements only allow upward variability. Employers and the government very much support the spread of VPS, while unions are less reluctant to accept VPS than they were in the past. VPS is more prominent in retail banking (predominantly single employer agreements) than in manufacturing (predominantly multi-employer agreements).

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Hospitals – Netherlands

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the hospital sector in the Netherlands. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 14 Apr 2009
    Netherlands: Political backing for curbing of top salaries and bonuses

    In February 2009, the Dutch House of Representatives urged the government to finalise a gentlemen’s agreement with the banks on bonus moderation. This follows a proposal in 2008 to tax top end salaries more heavily and to deal with the manipulation of shares and options in business takeovers. While the proposal attracted a mixed response, the current financial and economic crisis has broadened political support for intervention of some form regarding excessive remuneration.

  • 02 Apr 2009
    Netherlands: Social partners slam government plans to counter crisis

    The social partners have criticised the plans put forward by the Dutch government to ease the impact of the economic crisis. Trade unions are against the plans to keep older employees working for longer and to raise the retirement age. Employers, meanwhile, have argued against the scrapping of the mortgage interest rate deduction. All of the social partners are calling on the government to react more decisively to the economic crisis, as it did in the autumn of 2008.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    The Netherlands: Wage Formation

    The system of wage formation in the Netherlands is fairly stable. Collective bargaining coverage is more than 80% (including extension). The sector level is dominant, but the number of company agreements is increasing. Since 1969, there is a legal minimum wage, which is, however, not an issue for debate. The IT-sector differs from other sectors in many respects, e.g. low coverage by collective agreements and low union density. In the economy as a whole, and even more so in the IT-sector, labour shortages drive wages up.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Netherlands: Unions criticise separate agreement for eastern European temporary workers

    The Dutch Trade Union Federation has criticised the separate collective agreement for temporary employees from eastern Europe concluded in February 2009 by the Association of International Employment Agencies and De Unie. The federation disapproves of the fact that the agreement provides for lower pay than the existing agreements for temporary workers in the Netherlands. A majority of the Dutch House of Representatives are also opposed to the initiative.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Netherlands: Government appoints crisis team to deal with economic downturn

    In January 2009, the Minister for Social Affairs and the social partners joined forces to deal with the economic crisis. Sustainable measures on labour market modernisation will be explored, to avoid mass redundancies and increase employee mobility. A reduced working hours scheme will remain in place until March. Refresher training programmes will be offered to unemployed people and some social partners will also create incentive plans like job pools and ‘green’ measures.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Netherlands: Companies to be held liable for underpayment of temporary workers

    The Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment has submitted a legislative proposal placing liability for the non-payment or underpayment of wages on companies that hire temporary workers through ‘mala fide’ or fraudulent temporary work agencies. Trade unions and employer organisations had called for the legislative amendment to combat such practices. ‘Bona fide’ or credited agencies have welcomed the legislation as they face unfair competition from mala fide agencies.

  • 09 Mar 2009
    The impact of the information and consultation directive on industrial relations — The Netherlands

    This comparative report provides a general overview of the steps taken in the Netherlands to implement the 2002 Directive on informing and consulting employees. Only every minor changes were required, as Dutch legislation already conformed with the Directive, and indeed exceeded its requirements. The Directive has therefore had virtually no impact.

  • 06 Feb 2009
    The Netherlands: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training

  • 04 Feb 2009
    Netherlands: Social partners agree on dismissal law

    In the autumn of 2008, the social partners reached agreement with the Dutch cabinet on the country’s dismissal law. Resolving the issue had previously been entrusted to an advisory committee, the Bakker Committee, as the government parties opposed one another directly. However, the committee’s recommendations were again overruled in the autumn agreement. While employees will continue to enjoy protection from dismissal, the benefit level will be reduced and a ceiling introduced.

  • 04 Feb 2009
    Netherlands: Government and social partners unite efforts to tackle economic crisis

    The sharp economic downturn that has followed the financial crisis in the autumn of 2008 has brought the government and social partners closer together. The government permitted companies to temporarily register employees under the Unemployment Insurance Act, and the social partners requested in December that this arrangement be extended in 2009. They also proposed a range of supplementary arrangements targeting unemployed people and business.

  • 14 Jan 2009
    The Netherlands: Temporary agency work and collective bargaining

    The Netherlands is a forerunner in the regulation of temp agency work. A main focus in the regulation is the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA). Since the first CLA in 1971 negotiations have led to a better accommodation of the allocation, renumeration and protection of temp agency workers and the Human Resource Management function of temp work agencies. Since the Flex and Security Law, by CLA (and hybrids) regulations exist whereby (a proportion of the) temp workers gain (stepwise) regular employment contracts, with the protection similar to a regular employment contract. With the influx of migrant workers, CLA partners have started (hybrid) initiatives together with the government to come to public-private compliance systems directed at enforcing better working conditions and more effective actions against malafide agencies.

Page last updated: 30 July, 2014