FNV union confederation champions share-option schemes for employees

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In its draft memorandum on employment conditions for 2001, issued in July 2000, the Netherlands' FNV trade union confederation is seeking share-option schemes for all employees. Reactions to the proposal have been largely positive.

In early July 2000, the Dutch Trade Union Federation (Federatie Nederlandse Vakbeweging, FNV), the country's largest union confederation, emerged as a proponent of share options for employees (NL9712149F), calling for such schemes for all employees in its draft memorandum on employment conditions for 2001. Allied Unions (FNV-Bondgenoten), FNV's largest affiliate, responded positively to the confederation's change of course, while unions operating in the public sector reacted to the proposal by announcing their intention to seek alternative solutions.

According to the civil servants' union, AbvaKabo, FNV's second largest affiliate, the confederation's plan will create further competition in a labour market already plagued by shortages. Convinced that an equivalent to share options in the market sector must be created for the government, care and welfare sector, AbvaKabo suggests expanding and increasing the year-end bonus. The Police Union (Nederlandse Politie Bond, NPB) and the General Teachers Union (Algemene Onderwijsbond) think in terms of additional pay increases. FNV recognises the fact that alternatives to share options are necessary for small and medium-sized businesses and the public sector. The main author of the proposal, Cor Inja, cites government bonds as a possibility for civil servants.

Employer reactions have been largely positive. Variable forms of remuneration have been one of the employers' main themes in recent collective bargaining rounds (NL0003184F). The VNO-NCW employers' confederation, however, is quick to point out that share-option schemes must not be awarded on top of structural increase in wages; rather, the object is to create an exchange between the two forms of remuneration. At present, unions and employer representatives cannot see eye to eye on this point. FNV views share-option schemes as a complement to structural wage increases and considers its proposal to be the trade unions' response to the employers' offensive for more performance-based payment schemes.

In recent months, the Minister of Social Affairs and Employment, Willem Vermeend, has also urged the creation of more share-option schemes, in a cabinet steering group and to the social partners. Although the topic has obviously found a place on the agendas of all the parties involved, the social partners have made it clear to the minister that any government interference in wage determination would not be appreciated.

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