Bank of England strike to go ahead

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A three-day strike by Bank of England support staff will go ahead after talks at the conciliation service Acas ended without agreement, the Unite union said.

Employees are unhappy about a below inflation pay rise of 1%.

Protestors are planning to gather outside the Bank of England building wearing masks of Governor Mark Carney.

It will be the first time for over 50 years that staff at the Bank of England have been on strike.

Unite members at the Bank of England working in the maintenance and security departments will be taking part in the strike.

In addition, staff in the Bank of England “parlours” which are meeting rooms on the ground floor of the Bank’s building in Threadneedle Street will walk out. The staff are involved in a variety of work including security and catering as well as conducting visitors around the bank.

A Bank of England spokesperson said the Bank had been told that the industrial action called by Unite would begin at midnight for three days.

“The Union balloted approximately 2% of the workforce,” the statement said.

“The Bank has plans in place so that all essential business will continue to operate as normal during this period. The Bank has been in talks with Unite up to and including today and remains ready to continue those talks at any time.”

The last time Bank of England staff went on strike was in the late 60s and involved print workers in Debden, who were employed by the Bank of England at that time,

Unite said the dispute centred on the “derisory” pay settlement that the bank had imposed on staff without the union’s agreement. It was the second year running that staff had received a below inflation pay offer, it said.

Unite London and Eastern regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said its members had “been left with no choice but to take industrial action”.

“Mark Carney should come to the picket lines outside this iconic British bank today and explain why hardworking men and women deserve to face years of pay cuts.

“They are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families because the bank has unjustly imposed a below inflation or zero pay rise,” he added.

Inflation was 2.6% last month, according to official figures.


Aston Martin’s Impossible Dream

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SOMEWHERE ON THIS PLANET, there are 99 people — 99 wealthy, well-connected, impeccably dressed people — who have just been offered a new reason to flash a perfect smile. For it so happens that Aston Martin, the 10th coolest brand in Britain, has announced plans to build precisely that many examples of its mythologically pretty Vanquish Zagato coupé. The price for such privilege is something close to £500,000, but that hardly matters: They’re all sold out, all of them — gone before they printed the press release.

This news represents a minor trend among makers of exotic cars: announcing in a single breath both the availability and the unavailability of some special new model, thanks to the secret cadre of connected customers that snapped up the entire production run before you got out of bed. They are new cars that are, in essence, born used. Ferrari did it with its €2.5m LaFerrari-based FXXK, Porsche did it with the limited-edition 911R, and Lamborghini did it with the £1.7m Centenario. From a business perspective, this kind of announcement — which may be unique to the car industry — serves to demonstrate the essential desirability of a company and its products. From a consumer-psychology perspective, however, it’s a downer.

The production Vanquish Zagato — which in truth is little more than a lusciously Italianised rework of the none-too-homely Vanquish coupé — will be a dead ringer for Aston’s retina-burning concept version. It marks the eighth time the British carmaker has collaborated with the Milan-based Italian design house since 1960, all of which have proven rather desirable. (A 1962 example of the first Aston Zagato car, the DB4GT Zagato, sold at auction in New York last December for £9.5m).

The body work is crafted entirely from carbon-fibre composite (the standard car features a mix of aluminium, magnesium alloy and carbon panels), and the Zagato makes use of an up-tuned version of the standard Vanquish’s 568-horsepower, 6-litre V12 engine. Aston has not revealed official performance figures, but the extra horses, 592 in all, should be sufficient to trim the zero-to-60mph sprint by a half-second or so, to 3.5, and bump the top speed from 183mph to something closer to 200mph.

Beneath that double-bubble roof, herringbone carbon fibre and anondised bronze bits define a mildly revised cockpit, and a Matrix-like cascade of stitched and embossed Zs serve as a continual reminder that, unlike you, the driver is one of the annointed Zagato 99.

Which brings us back to the single, difficult bullet point on the Vanquish Zagato announcement that obfuscates all the others: It’s sold out. Even for those who lack the liquidity to buy a half-million-pound car if they so desired, which is pretty much everyone, too-bad-so-sad product announcements like this suggest that even with hard work and/or a healthy trust fund, you still can’t have what you want. It removes the “what if?” from the experience of appreciating such cars, and that’s a regrettable loss. The poster on our bedroom wall wasn’t somebody else’s car; it was ours.

 


Could EU citizens get better UK access?

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It has been said of the Prime Minister that it is as important to listen to what she doesn’t say as to what she does.

When I interviewed her yesterday, I asked about an issue that is a live debate in government. Yes, the Prime Minister has been very clear about what the UK doesn’t want in its negotiations with the European Union. No free movement of people. And no oversight of British laws by the European Court of Justice. But what about what it may offer to gain privileged access to the economically important single market? One issue where there appears to be some flexibility is the rules that will be put in place to control immigration into the UK. I asked Mrs May whether the government would consider allowing easier access for EU immigrants than those from outside the union. And in return gain better access to the single market than offered to non EU states. “When people voted on the June 23, they did vote for us to take control of our immigration laws for people coming from the EU into the UK,” she answered. “They want the British government to be the government that is making those decisions on their behalf, and that is what we will do. “At the moment the Home Office is looking at the various systems we could put in place, the various rules that we could put in place and in due course we will be deciding which route to go down.”

Control

So, it could be on the table, I asked. “We are looking at the various systems that are possible at the moment. The key issue for people here in the UK is that we have control – that it is the British government that is deciding our immigration rules.” Which, of course, is not a no. This morning the chancellor said that the issue of preferential access “could be a subject for negotiation”. He made it clear at the World Economic Forum that the government wanted to control the UK’s borders, not close them.

The debate, though live, is not yet settled. Another senior government figure I spoke to pointed out that a level playing field for immigration for all nations around the world could be an important part of “the offer” to countries outside the EU when it comes to negotiating free trade deals. I am told that Mrs May has not yet come to the point where the options are being “actively considered” by Number 10. The government is still in “looking at the alternatives” mode. But, given that the PM did not rule it out, what she didn’t say may speak volumes.

Kamal Ahmed


Will Prudential be split into three separate firms

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Prudential and AIA deal collapses

Prudential could be broken up as bosses at the pension giant try to manage the impact of the world’s ageing population.

The firm has begun a review of its £45billion pension liabilities – possibly triggering a split into three separate firms focused on the UK, the US and Asia. It has hired Clare Bousfield to head the probe after she helped to sell Aegon’s £9billion annuity portfolio. The Pru’s annuities operation serves hundreds of thousands of British pensioners, whose nest eggs could move to a new business if the change goes ahead.

An even more drastic approach would see the company sell its whole British pensions operation – possibly as part of a wider break-up. If that happened, its only remaining UK operation would be asset management business M&G. If Prudential pushes ahead with a sale, potential buyers are likely to include Rothesay Life and Pension Insurance Corporation.  A spokesman said: ‘We do not comment on market speculation.’  Shares closed up 0.77 per cent at 1,627.5p on Friday.

 

 


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