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Negotiating skills and awareness of collective conciliation key in today's climate: Acas publishes new Policy Discussion Paper

Tuesday 07 April 2009

Acas, the employment relations service, today published its latest Policy Discussion Paper on the role collective conciliation and negotiating skills play in resolving large-scale disputes.

The new Acas paper, pdf icon The alchemy of dispute resolution – the role of collective conciliation [441kb], highlights the importance of these processes in settling disputes at a crucial time. The recent unofficial wildcat action within the power industry and Lindsey oil refinery shows just how fragile collective relations can be when the economy is in crisis.

The paper also highlights the need for HR managers to be trained in the skills needed to manage collective relations in today's workplace. Many HR managers and trade union representatives are facing uncertain situations that are new and challenging.

Acas has a long tradition of providing collective conciliation in many different parts of the public sector. However, disputes within the public sector are also identified as an area where Acas collective conciliation could be used more. A certain reluctance on the part of some public sector bodies to make full use of the service is noted – a missed opportunity in view of the relatively high level of trade union density in the sector compared to the private sector.

Research into the economic impact of Acas identified that the collective conciliation service provides benefits worth £159 million a year to the national economy. As the country weathers the recession, the role of collective conciliation has never been more important.

Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair said:

''Providing training in the skills associated with collective conciliation, and raising awareness and promoting the use of this particular Acas service, are vital steps in order to prevent disputes getting out of hand and causing long-term damage to British industrial relations."

Notes for editors

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.

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