Teachers try to loosen Colonial ties

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The Independent Online
COLONIAL MUTUAL, the Australian-owned insurer which is under investigation by the Personal Investment Authority, will come under further fire this week as members of the National Association of Schoolmasters/ Union of Women Teachers protest against their union's close links with the insurer.

On Wednesday, at its annual conference in Glasgow, the union will debate a report by its auditors, Clark Whitehill, into the 70-year-old relationship, ordered by members last year.

That victory defied the leadership's wishes and rebels are already calling the report, which has been seen by the Independent on Sunday, a "whitewash".

The PIA is looking at allegations of mis-selling and falsification of training records made by several employees earlier this year. The NAS/UWT report fails to mention the inquiry, however, simply saying Colonial was "vindicated" over earlier allegations and criticisms of a pensions product.

Rebels are angry over the report's failure to compare policy performance and will call for a fresh review by a top accountancy firm. "Quite frankly we don't think it's good enough," one delegate said.

The NAS/UWT has earned pounds 3.5m in commission from its Colonial link in the past 10 years. It is, however, still negotiating the re-entry into the Teachers Superannuation Scheme of 30 members who were wrongly advised to opt out.

Colonial deputy general manager Sandy Grant last weekblamed the delay on procedures laid down by regulators.

During the week, Colonial lost a bid to run the privatised Teachers Pensions Agency.