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Website URL : http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3111

Acas and the TUC launch new mediation guide for trade union representatives

Monday 13 September 2010

Acas, the employment relations service, and the TUC have launched a new guide for trade union representatives at today's TUC conference on the benefits of mediation, and how it can complement their role in helping avoid costly disputes.

Trade unions play an important role in resolving disputes through informal channels. According to research, 73% of union reps said they had spent time on individual disputes.

Speaking at the TUC Congress Ed Sweeney, Acas Chair said:

"Mediation is a very useful option where formal procedures are unlikely to find a solution and could even make the situation worse. In the past there has been some reluctance to use mediation within the union movement as it was seen as a possible barrier to justice. Despite some apprehension, we are increasingly seeing evidence of trade unions recognising the benefits it can bring to their members."

The new guide seeks to reassure union reps of the benefits of mediation and highlights the type of disputes where it can offer an informal and confidential space to tackle issues. Mediation is particularly useful for bullying and harassment issues and personality clashes that are not always easily dealt with through formal procedures.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:

"Unions have always valued resolving workplace disputes in the workplace rather than in the courts wherever possible. The prime purpose of unions is to represent their members at work and seek negotiated solutions to problems.

"We welcome the work of Acas on supporting workplace mediation and recommend this new Guide to union negotiators."

Mediation can provide additional ways to help reduce grievances and costly tribunal claims. In 2009/2010 Acas dealt with over 85,000 net employment tribunal cases. One of the key benefits of mediation is that employees are more likely to remain in employment because the issue is dealt with early on.

In 2009, Acas introduced pre-claim conciliation, a new early conciliation service that deals with potential tribunal claims that have not yet been lodged with the tribunal service. Acas estimates that PCC reduced the number of claims to Tribunal by over 5000 in 2009/10, and hopes to double this reduction in 2010/11.

The new guide covers:

  • What happens during mediation
  • The role of representatives in mediation and how to support members
  • Working with employers to set up mediation arrangements
  • How mediation fits with other workplace procedures and agreements
  • Trade Union reps acting as mediators.

Mediation: A guide for trade union representatives is available from our mediation page.

Acas and the CIPD launched a similar guide for employers in 2008 called Mediation: an employer's guide, also available from our mediation page

Notes for editors

1. 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.

2. Inside the Workplace: Findings from the 2004 Workplace Employment Relations Survey

3. The Acas fringe, Mediation - Friend or foe?, takes place at the TUC Congress 2010 on Monday 13 September at 12.45pm, Room 3, Manchester Central.

4. Acas' Chair, Ed Sweeney, is attending the TUC 2010 Congress and chairing the Acas fringe event and is available for interviews. Please call the Acas press office if you would like to arrange this.

  • Clare Carter, Press and PR Manager on 020 7210 3688
  • Lou Owen, Media and Marketing Officer on 020 7210 3920.