Internal sources within the BCC reported this, and director Leon van der Elsen of the CNV trade union confirmed to RTL Z. “There already appears to be a significant backlog in the payment of pension premiums, both on the employer side and the employee side. The last part has been withholding of employee salaries.” But it was not paid to the retirement fund.
In bankruptcy cases, it is not unusual for salaries and pension contributions to not be paid for the month prior to the bankruptcy. It is exceptional for pension contributions to remain unpaid for more than a year. “Unfortunately, we see that quite often, but that’s a very long time,” says van der Elsen.
“The union director cannot yet say the reason for the late payments. “This matter still needs to be investigated. It appears to be more than just negligence on the part of the BCC. “We spoke to the trustees about this this week, and they were also very surprised. The question is also why Pensioenfonds Detailhandel did not intervene.”
Consequences for employees
The consequences for BCC’s more than a thousand employees and several hundred employees who have already left in recent years are likely to remain limited. In most cases, the UWV Benefits Agency guarantees unpaid pension premiums for up to one year in the event of bankruptcy.
If the UWV doesn’t cover everything, the pension fund will pay the rest of the damages. “This also becomes a political story, because the damage is paid for with collective money,” says Van der Elsen, director of CNV.
Damage is covered
Lawyer and pension expert Jorn de Bruin, who is investigating the case on behalf of the trustees, stresses that the financial consequences for (former) BCC employees are limited because the UWV and the pension fund cover the deficit.
“I can imagine that there is great unrest among employees. It is of course very upsetting to lose your job due to bankruptcy, and then you also have to worry about your pension entitlement because the insurance premiums have not been paid. But the pension fund guarantees the pension entitlement.”
However, he is calling on former BCC employees to come forward To inform UWV. “UWV can then pay the overdue installments to the pension fund for up to one year.” A mass notice is sent to UWV for employees who were still employed during the bankruptcy.
According to De Bruyne, the trustees are certain to investigate the unpaid pension contributions. “This is of course undesirable from a social perspective. The UWV and the pension fund are paying for the damages, so they are paid with collective funds. These are large sums, not a few hundred thousand.”
Losses in millions
He could not confirm an estimate of between €6 million and €10 million based on more than 1,000 employees and one year of unpaid premiums. “But you can think in that order of magnitude.”
Chairman of BCC’s parent company, Mirage Retail Group, Michel Witteveen, says he can’t say much about the matter. “I don’t have an answer for you. I know there are pension funds that are so backward that they don’t send the bills. But you have to go to the people who run the company, Caspar Klinkhammer.”
BCC Director Klinkhamer initially did not want to say anything, but eventually confirmed the installment arrears. “This arose in the past, before I took office. The pension provider had problems with the system, and as a result the BCC was not invoiced for a long period and an incorrect invoice was subsequently issued. We contacted the pension fund and arranged the payment, and we have stuck to it.”
Pensioenfonds Detailhandel spokesman Tine van Herekwis could not yet explain the matter.
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