Acas reaches 30th birthday with no beer and sandwiches to be seen
This week, Acas celebrates its 30th anniversary. It was formed in 1975 at the height of industrial disputes and built its reputation on resolving them. Talks often continued far into the night, fuelled by beer (at 32 pence a pint) and sandwiches (46p per pound for cheese and 14p for a large loaf).
Nowadays Acas is a very different organisation. It still plays a major role in sorting out disputes - although now participants are far more likely to order in pizza and no alcohol is provided - but it concentrates on providing the advice and good practice needed to help prevent disputes arising.
In the new Acas our mantra is 'prevention is better than cure' and our focus is on educating, informing and training Britain's employers and employees about good employment relations practice. Much else has changed in the employment relations world too.
Here are some more key changes - and things you did not know about Acas.
Employment world and Acas then (1975) and now (2005)
Days lost through strikes - down from 5.5 million to only 214,000
Growth in the workforce - there has been a 13 percent increase in the labour force - from 22 million to almost 25 million.
Gender shift - Women make up the extra workforce, with the number of women working having increased from just under nine million to over 12 million while the number of men in work has fallen from 13 million to 12.6 million.
Employment tribunal applications - unfair dismissal cases have increased from 24,367 to 34,864 today. We now have many more employment rights, including sex, race and disability discrimination legislation. So in 2004/5 there were 81,833 employment tribunal applications in total - although 75 percent of those were settled or withdrawn with Acas' help.
Disputes - despite the increase in the labour force the number of collective disputes Acas has been involved in has halved - down from 2,228 to 1,123.
Trade Unions - with many mergers there has been a huge reduction in the number of trade unions - from 488 to 67. Union membership has fallen too, down from almost 12 million to 7.4 million.
Acas helpline - Calls to the Acas helpline have more than doubled - from 400,000 in 1978 to almost 900,000 last year.
In 2005 there are:
30 visits on the website every 40 seconds
30 calls to the helpline every 5 minutes
30 people booking training every hour and a half
30 employment tribunal cases received every 40 minutes
30 advice publications ordered per 4 hours
30 people signing up to e-learning every 5 hours
Type Acas into Google's search engine and we will be top of the list. But if you search further you get some strange results.
Other organisations that will pop up on your screen include:
- Hamilton Academicals - that well-known Scottish football club
- Association des Camerounaises en Afrique du Sud - the mother association of Cameroonians in South Africa.
- American Capital Strategies Ltd which is 'a publicly traded buyout and mezzanine fund with capital resources of approximately $6 billion'.
- Asian Community Aids Service which 'provides support, education and strength to AIDS infected Asian Canadians.'
- Association of Concerned Africa Scholars which looks at aspects of foreign policy and perceptions of Africa in the USA.
- The Aboriginal Children's Advancement Society is 'an organisation in Australia that aims to achieve aboriginal reconciliation by improving the education of aboriginal children.'
- Airborne Collision Avoidance System which 'provides pilots with a system independent of air traffic control to detect the presence of other aircraft which may present a threat of collision.'
- Adaptive and Context-Aware Services. The objective of this project is to 'create affordable and adaptive support for users to interact with services on the Internet beyond that is possible with existing and planned cellular infrastructures.'
Notes to editors
1. The Acas helpline - 08457 47 47 47 is open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
2. Acas' aim is to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. It provides information, advice, training and a range of services working with employers and employees to prevent or resolve problems and improve performance. It is an independent statutory body governed by a Council consisting of the Acas Chair and employer, trade union and independent members.
For press enquiries please contact Paula Williams or Lou Owen, tel: 020 7210 3894/3920.