04-02-2022

Retiring earlier becomes possible due to the new Heavy Work scheme for the meat sector

In 2020, the collective labour agreement for the Dutch meat sector included a heavy work scheme for the first time. This new scheme was a result of the pension agreement


In 2020, the collective labour agreement for the Dutch meat sector included a heavy work scheme for the first time. This new scheme was a result of the pension agreement. The meat sector is therefore one of the first sectors in the Netherlands to have developed such a heavy work scheme and make it available to its employees. Godfried Biemans, P&O Manager at ESA, is a member of the joint working group that developed this scheme.

Godfried Biemans: “In the meat sector, we are dealing with an ageing population, especially in the production departments. My generation started working very early and was generally very loyal. At a meat processor, you could therefore develop into an excellent professional with a certain specialism. However, this does make it difficult for them to find other work later in their careers. Working in a production environment of a meat processing plant is physically demanding work. At ESA, too, we have noticed for some years that employees who have been working in production for a long time have higher levels of absenteeism and visit the company doctor more frequently.

In view of the state pension age being raised to 67 in the Netherlands, not only the VanDrie Group but the entire meat sector felt the urgency to consider tax options that would allow the older generation of employees performing heavy work to retire earlier. At the end of 2020, COV representatives, together with the FNV and CNV trade unions, achieved a tax arrangement that makes this possible. The scheme applies to employees in the meat sector who have worked in a physically demanding job (had meat in their hands) for at least 20 years and have been employed by their final employer for at least 10 years. It’s a temporary scheme that will last up to the end of 2025. This is a kind of generation pact that is now very relevant in view of the ageing population in our sector.

The heavy work scheme is a kind of generation pact that is now very relevant in view of the ageing population in our sector. – Godfried Biemans

At the same time, we are working within ESA on ways to further improve sustainable employability. For example, we are investigating the extent to which parts of our production process can be further automated and robotised. But also how we can organise task rotation in the production departments more effectively, so that employees have more physically diverse work. This is not easy, because it would require a person to learn new skills. Fortunately, we see that the younger generation is open to this.”

Read more (NL) about the heavy work scheme.

GOOD EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES

Our employees are precious to us. We want to offer an inclusive workplace. We believe it is important that our employees have confidence in the people with whom they work, that they are given opportunities to develop themselves and that they are proud of their contribution within our organisation. Curious about what else the VanDrie Group is doing in the area of being a good employer? Read our annual report for 2020 here.



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