The TUC yesterday published "shocking" new evidence that it claimed showed the depths of the country's pensions crisis.

The union organisation accused employers of walking away from their pension responsibilities and said the collapse of decent schemes in private firms had been "dramatic".

Speaking on the eve of the TUC Congress in Brighton, general secretary Brendan Barber said half of salary related pensions had closed to new entrants in just three years up to 2003.

Research for the TUC showed that two thirds of final salary schemes were no longer open to new members.

The TUC leader said Government plans to revitalise workplace pensions with stakeholder schemes had been "an abject failure", demanded it should start preparing the ground for "radical solutions" and urged Ministers to "take on" employers.

The TUC called for compulsory contributions towards pension schemes as it published a blueprint aimed at tackling the crisis.

Meanwhile the CBI claimed senior managers were spending an increasing amount of time dealing with the effect of employment laws, including the "negative impact" of flexible working.

The CBI said its survey of 420 firms showed employers were devoting a "great deal" of time and energy on dealing with requests from parents of young children to vary their working arrangements.

The number of companies reporting a negative impact on their business increased from 11 per cent to 26 per cent.

The CBI also warned that "pockets" of concern had emerged about relations with trade unions because of signs of unrest starting to emerge.

One in five companies questioned said they believed national union leaders were likely to take an adversarial stance over the coming year.