Tata plans closure of UK’s British Steel pension fund

first_imgThe British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) is to close to new accrual, Tata Steel has told union representatives.Union GMB called Tata’s plan to close the fund “unnecessary and profoundly disappointing”, and said it was preparing a strike ballot.According to the union, the fund had £13.6bn (€17bn) in assets at the end of November last year, up from £12.6bn at the end of March. David Hulse, GMB national officer, said the union did not expect to find itself discussing closure to new accrual, following months of negotiations that got underway in November. “Throughout a long process, we have acted in good faith and negotiated constructively in trying to reach an agreement that addresses what we acknowledge to be a significant deficit in the scheme,” Hulse added.According to the fund’s most recent annual report from 2013-14, BSPS had a £1.1bn deficit in March 2013 when measured on an on-going basis.Hulse was critical of Tata’s plans to close the fund to new accrual.“We have made every effort to compromise with the company, even discussing the possibility of meeting the deficit through changes to member benefits, despite the fact the company is legally obliged to pay for the deficit and has always done so in the past,” Hulse said.“Sadly, the company rejected this offer out of hand. It appears they are hell-bent on closing the scheme and are not prepared to compromise.”He said the management of parent company Tata Steel Europe should “seriously consider their positions” after what he deemed a breakdown in trust between the scheme’s sponsor and its workforce.A spokesman for Tata said the company put forward changes to the defined benefits (DB) fund that would have balanced any changes across the entire workforce.“We believe the trade unions’ proposals to change member benefits would have unfairly disadvantaged younger scheme members, who would have had to bear most of the impact of the changes.He added: “We have been unable to come to an agreement that would have enabled defined benefit provision to continue and we will be consulting employees on a proposal to close the defined benefit scheme to future accrual.It is proposed that future pension provision will be on a defined contribution basis.BTPS is a DB scheme, with a standalone defined contribution arrangement launched in 2014.The DB section returned 1.6% over the course of the 2013-14 financial year, and 7.8% over the three years to 2014.last_img read more

Bolt wants to be ‘among best’ footballers in world

first_imgPARIS, France (AFP) — Usain Bolt conquered athletics and now the fastest man on the planet says he wants to become among the top players in world football.The Jamaican sprint legend, 30, will retire after the World Championships in London in August after a track and field career in which he has amassed eight Olympic gold medals, 11 world titles and three world records.Bolt has already made clear his desire to become a footballer, but spelling out his ambitions, the Manchester United fan told France’s So Foot magazine: “I have the ambition to become one of the top 50 (players in the world), if I get the chance to play regularly, and I want to be an attacker who scores at least 20 goals per season.”Warming to his theme, Bolt added: “I hope to have the chance to play football at the highest level.“I love this sport and it’s been in my head for many years. In the last few months I have spoken to clubs, and there have been possibilities, but nothing concrete at the moment. We are waiting to see.”Bolt previously made clear his dream was to play for United, but he is likely to get a taste of top-level football in September with Borussia Dortmund for “three or four days” of training.Dortmund have rejected suggestions it is a publicity stunt for Puma, the sports manufacturer they and Bolt use.I will see at this point whether I am as good as I hope,” Bolt said.“Football is a very physically demanding sport, and I’m not very young anymore, but I think I can play well for at least four years.”Asked if he was prepared to play in France’s second division if nothing better comes along, he replied: “Why not?“I would do it if I need to prove myself, I have to start somewhere… but I need an ambitious team.”last_img read more

Graphene hair dye: Scientists use miracle nanomaterial to make non-toxic dye

first_imgDying hair too often can damage it. The chemicals affect the silky strands, causing them to become brittle and dry. Now scientists from Northwestern University have come up with a way to color hair using the super-material graphene in a process that is non-toxic and non-damaging. It also colors the hair so well that it lasts for over 30 washes. And if you ever thought your hair isn’t doing enough by just sitting there – graphene is a conductor that can turn hair into electrodes or allow it to be integrated with wearable electronic devices. Commercial dyes use chemicals such as ammonia and bleach which open up the outermost layer of hair called the cuticle and allow in coloring molecules that trigger a reaction inside the hair. The reaction produces more color but can cause the hair to become very fragile, while the molecules it injects can be quite toxic.The research was led by Jiaxing Huang, who is the professor of materials science and engineering in Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering. His team managed to bypass harmful chemicals by “leveraging the natural geometry of graphene sheets,” as explains their press release. Unlike a cocktail of small molecules used in current hair dyes, the sheets of graphene, a two-dimensional material made of a single atomic layer of carbon, are flexible and soft. Applied as a spray, they wrap around each hair to create an even coating.The ink formula by Huang also utilized edible, non-toxic polymer binds that make graphene stick to the hair through at least 30 washes – a commercial requirement for permanent hair dye. Another cool thing about graphene-treated hair is due to graphene’s anti-static properties. It will reduce “winter-weather flyaways,” claim the scientists.“It’s similar to the difference between a wet paper towel and a tennis ball,” explained Huang, when contrasting the geometry of graphene to other black pigment particles like carbon black or iron oxide, used in temporary hair dyes. “The paper towel is going to wrap and stick much better. The ball-like particles are much more easily removed with shampoo.”The durability of graphene-coated hair against washing. Credit: Northwestern University.The particular properties of graphene also make it a safer alternative from a health standpoint. Unlike small molecules that can enter through the skin or inhalation, graphene is just too big to get into the body. “Compared to those small molecules used in current hair dyes, graphene flakes are humongous,” said Huang.There is also the possibility of applying graphene to turn the hair conductive on its surface, which would make it possible to integrate with wearable electronics. “We are only limited by our imagination,” said Huang of that potential direction.For now, Huang’s team created graphene-based hair dyes in various shades of brown and black, relying on graphene natural black color. The scientists plan to experiment with more colors next. Considering that the retail sales of at-home hair coloring topped $1.9 billion in the U.S. in 2016, the graphene coloring spray can become a dramatic commercial success.Sourcelast_img read more