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Shell Netherlands on warpath with staff council over pensions

Screen Shot 2013-06-07 at 14.51.52You may want to keep an eye on this latest development in relation to the Shell Dutch Pension Fund. Your website was involved in breaking news about the recovery plan for the pension fund after a financial meltdown a few years ago. Shell Netherlands is on a warpath with the staffcouncil.

RECEIVED FROM A ROYAL DUTCH SHELL SOURCE

Hello John

You may want to keep an eye on this latest development in relation to the Shell Dutch Pension Fund.

Your website was involved in breaking news about the recovery plan for the pension fund after a financial meltdown a few years ago.

Shell Netherlands is on a warpath with the staffcouncil. They want to introduce a new pension system (for new staff) which is much less favorable for the employees.

It will be done. But the Staffcouncil is against. Drama will develop, all in dutch of course. Start is 1st July.

Rather than a guaranteed pension, which Shell needs to repair if the results are poor, they will switch to a much more modern system which does not create those major upheavals for Shell in good and bad times.  And there are no guarantees….
 
The article below contains a big error, in the last sentence it is stated Shell had to put in 2 million euro to repair the funding. This should be 2 billion. Journalists can only cackle and write oneliners, many have no clue about the content….
 
It rarely happens that Shell goes against the staffcouncil. I do not know what the legalities are. On payments like remuneration, pensions, benefits, allowances etc they MUST have agreement from the staffcouncil. For all others (e.g. appointment of new directors, re-organisations etc) they get ‘Advice’ and are free to ignore that.
 
Since this pension business is about new employees, it may fall in between the cracks. I simply have no idea. Lawyers will get rich on this. And I am convinced it will be done.
 
Remember also that the current president of Shell Nederland is a socialist who carried the bags of Joop den Uyl and so made a career in the party. Joop den Uyl was an old fasioned hard core socialist who nearly bankrupted Netherlands. It took 10 years of re-adjustments and pain to get back to normal again. Until he switched to one of the highest paid non-jobs in Shell….

DUTCH ARTICLE SUPPLIED BY SAME SOURCE

 OR Shell eist intrek pensioenregeling

De ondernemingsraad van Shell heeft topman Dick Benschop voor de laatste keer dringend verzocht niet door te gaan met de nieuwe pensioenregeling voor nieuwe medewerkers.

Shell voert de regeling in zonder instemming van de raad. De bestuurder heeft tot vrijdag 12 uur de tijd dat terug te draaien, zo las het Financieele Dagblad in een brief aan Benschop. Gebeurt dat niet, dan stapt de raad waarschijnlijk naar de rechter.

De oliegigant veroorzaakte veel opschudding door zelfstandig te besluiten dat nieuw personeel vanaf 1 juli onder een ander pensioenregime valt. Het risico ligt dan volledig bij de medewerkers.

Shell stapt namelijk over van een pensioenregeling met gegarandeerde aanspraken naar een beschikbarepremieregeling. Daarbij betaalt de werkgever een vaste premie en hangt het pensioen af van de beleggingsresultaten.

Het bedrijf wil met de nieuwe pensioenregeling meer stabiliteit in zijn pensioenkosten creëren. Nu moeten de premies steeds naar boven of beneden bijgesteld worden. Bovendien heeft Shell er genoeg van om steeds grote klappen op te vangen. Zo moest het concern een paar jaar geleden twee miljoen bijstorten in zijn pensioenkas.

Door: ANP/NU.nl

GOOGLE TRANSLATE VERSION

RELATED RECENT ARTICLE

Lawmakers blast Shell pension fund for ‘sidestepping’ workers council

23 May 2013

NETHERLANDS – Jetta Klijnsma, state secretary for the Dutch Ministry of Social Affairs, said she would move to prevent companies from setting up pension funds without first consulting their worker councils.

Her promise came during a parliamentary debate on governance legislation and followed criticism from the Christian Democrats (CDA) and the Socialist Party (SP) of Shell Netherlands for establishing a defined contribution scheme for new staff while current workers enjoy more generous defined benefit arrangements.

According to unions and the workers council (OR), the employer “fully ignored” their proposals for alternatives.

Pieter Omtzigt, MP for the CDA, described the developments at Shell as “very undesirable” and tabled an amendment to grant the OR a right of approval on contracts for pensions provision, as well as on the launch of new pension funds.

He said the current absence of this right was down to a “legal loophole”, and while he acknowledged that it would be very difficult to apply the proposed legal changes retroactively, he called on Shell’s executive board to “retrace its steps”.

Paul Ulenbelt, MP for the SP, accused Shell of “sidelining” its employees.

“Shell is creating a precedent that could undermine the Dutch pensions system,” he said.

State secretary Klijnsma, however, argued that the conflict was about labour conditions rather governance.

She said granting an OR a right of approval on pension provision would “unnecessarily stretch” the council’s role.

“The OR already has a right of approval on establishing pension arrangements,” she said.

“Extending this competence will cause unnecessary costs for both companies and ORs.”

In the opinion of Hans van Meerten, of law firm Clifford Chance, it would be easy to involve an OR in decision-making on pension provision, simply by stating the right of approval in the pensions contract.

“Since the social partners conclude the pensions arrangements, it would also have been possible to establish the conditions for a proper scheme at Shell,” he said, stressing that the content of a pension plan was more important than the provision.

In a statement, Shell said it had “voluntarily conducted serious, lengthy and extended consultations” with the OR, and that it decided to establish a new scheme because a settlement could not be agreed.

It said the OR subsequently declined to be involved in the establishment of the new pension fund, including the composition of its board.

Author: Leen Preesman

SOURCE

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