THE PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown yesterday announced to the TUC that Labour...
THE PRIME MINISTER Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown yesterday announced to the TUC that Labour had no intention of giving in to union demands by deserting its controversial public sector policies, reports the Scotsman.
According to the paper, Brown "shocked" the Trades Union Congress in Brighton by saying that union leaders who are trying to block reforms are threatening to risk the UK economy.
He also rejected several union demands, which included the withdrawal of Britain's opt-out of the working-time directive and pay rises for public-sector workers, at the same time as he scolded the unions for their lack of "long-term" vision.
Brown's harsh words were underlined by Blair's message that the government was committed to reform despite strong opposition from certain sections of the unions.
General secretary of Britain's biggest union UNISON, Dave Prentis, said Brown had "done nothing to break the impasse between Labour and the unions".
WHILE BLAIR holds on to reforms, it seems like stakeholder - the government's brainchild - is walking on thin ice as Standard Life is expected to heavily scale back its stakeholder pension business in the near future.
This comes as the mutual is to launch a new, more expensive, product next year, writes the Daily Telegraph today.
Stakeholder was first introduced as a product aimed at the poor, but has been a huge disaster ever since its launch in April 2001 and Standard Life - which shares 25% of the stakeholder market with Norwich Union -is like other companies thought to have suffered disappointing sales.
Adding to the problem is that many stakeholder contracts are unlikely to make a profit for as long as 15 years as charges must be kept to 1% per year, and as contributions of as little as £20 are allowed.
However, Standard Life is thought to be wary of withdrawing quickly from the stakeholder market for fear of angering policyholders by confessing it has lost money.
ANGERED POLICYHOLDERS are, however, more likely to be found amid the Equitable debacle as they are to face further wait for answers about the insurer's fall, after it emerged yesterday that the findings of the long-awaited official inquiry have been delayed again.
The Times reports that the inquiry under Lord Penrose is still not finished, and despite assurances from the team that it would be finalised during the summer, this fuelled fears that the report may not be published until next year.
Equitable Life's chief executive Charles Thomson said that: "Policyholders have been waiting over two years now since the Treasury first appointed Lord Penrose. We appreciate that it is a very wide-ranging and thorough investigation, but the society's members do have a right to know his findings as soon as possible."
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