Unions today step up the pressure on fund managers to reveal how they vote on controversial shareholder resolutions, when it names and shames firms which have refused to disclose their records.
Barclay's Global Investors, Invesco and Scottish Widows are among firms criticised in the TUC's first annual fund manager survey, for failing to say what action they took in 49 of the most high-profile shareholder showdowns of 2001-02.
Brendan Barber, the TUC's general secretary, said some firms had cited "client confidentiality" as their reason for keeping their voting records secret, but union members had a right to know how their assets were being managed. Just 40% of the City institutions approached by the TUC provided full information.
"Workers are the owners of these funds and should know how their ownership rights are exercised," Mr Barber said. "Trustees should not be denied important information about the behaviour of fund managers when weighing up whom to trust with their retirement assets."
After government pressure for them to get more involved in overseeing the firms they own, institutional investors issued a new code of conduct last year, promising to vote on shareholder resolutions as of ten as is practicable. The TUC said its survey was an important test of how transparent fund managers have become.
The TUC, which runs a network of pension fund trustees who are also union members, is making the information publicly available and encouraging members to consider managers' voting records when deciding who to trust with their assets.
"Fund managers are worried," Mr Barber said. "They know their future success depends on their willingness to account for their actions."
A spokesman for Barclays Global Investors said its policy was to vote on every shareholder resolution put before a company in the FTSE All-Share index, and it disclosed its voting records to pension fund trustees each quarter. Goldman Sachs Asset Management, also criticised for failing to respond to the survey, said it also voted on all resolutions.
The TUC report said that, whatever took place behind closed doors in the City, there was "an irresistible public interest in favour of disclosure".
Seven firms volunteered to give the TUC full details of their voting records, including Britannic Investment, Deutsche Asset Management and Hermes. The TUC was able to obtain information through its trustee network on the records of another 11 firms and found published records for five.