Monday, March 26, 2007

The New Capitalists?

Belated picture of the latest meeting of the UNISON "Capital Stewardship" working group in London last week. The volunteers are all member nominated representatives on Local government pension schemes. We are trying to set up a forum within UNISON on such issues. I’ve taken this extract (below) from the UNISON website on CS.

"What is capital stewardship?

It is estimated that occupational pension schemes and small savers "own" more than 50% of stock in the world's major companies.
Assets of pension funds are at risk if fund boards and their investment panels are given poor advice by investment professionals. Assets are also at risk if funds are invested in badly-managed companies - for example, those which are exposed to risk by failing to comply with legislation, or whose activities result in bad publicity and damage to their brands.
Capital stewardship is aimed at engaging with companies in which our members have shares to ensure they are innovative, well-managed and not taking undue risks with our retirement savings.
In the recent period, the TUC's capital stewardship work has included scrutiny of executive remuneration packages at GlaxoSmithKline, Corus, HSBC and BskyB. The TUC sent voting alerts to its Member Trustee Network advising trustees of its opposition to particular board remuneration proposals.
Through their ownership of company shares in the UK and overseas, UNISON members are effectively joint employers, along with other pension scheme contributors and small investors, of workers in the private sector both here and abroad.
Capital stewardship also aims to ensure that pension funds do not sit idly by when companies engage in activities to which members have expressed their opposition, such as poor environmental standards, bad labour relations, excessive executive pay and poor social responsibility.

UNISON's Capital Stewardship Programme aims to ensure that our members' interests are actively pursued through representation on fund boards and investment panels and by engagement with the companies which our members "own" or lend money to".

If you are interested in this issue check out Tom’s “Capital and Labour” blog. One of the first things we need to do is make ourselves more “representative” of UNISON members. Volunteers welcome! If you are in UNISON and in a “funded” pension scheme, contact your branch secretary/regional office to see if you could become a member nominated representative (or trustee). UNISON is putting together training courses and there is a new web site.

Also Check out the excellent book “The New Capitalists” at Amazon.

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