The Great Debate UK
Your business is Peter Harwood’s business — at least it becomes his business if you seek the help of employment relations service Acas to help mediate a collective conflict in your workplace.
As chief conciliator at the Advisory, Concilation and Arbitration Service, Harwood has mediated hundreds of employment tribunal cases over the past 20 years, including recent high-profile disputes between British Airways and Unite union; Royal Mail and the Communication Workers Union; Network Rail and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers; oil company Total and Unite.
Media coverage may give the impression that strike action increased in Britain during the recent economic downturn, but — in keeping with patterns during periods of recession — it has dropped, a new Acas policy discussion paper reports. The pattern of industrial action is similar to the one that emerged in the recession of the 1990s, it suggests.
“Stoppages fell to 121 in the year to June 2009 from 155 in the same period in the previous non-recessionary year,” writes Sarah Podro, the author of the study. “Working days lost fell dramatically from 933, 000 to 598,000.”
Businesses and employees embroiled in conflict are tapping into a free conciliation service to avoid expensive employment tribunal claims at a rate that has doubled since September 2009, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service reports.
Acas, governed by an independent council funded by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills, fields about 87,000 tribunal cases a year to sort out disputes between employers and employees.
- Dr Linda Alker is a princpal lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School. Her areas of expertise include organisational change, leadership and workplace stress. The opinions expressed are her own. -
Workplace bullying is identified as one of the greatest sources of stress that you can put upon your employees, although organisations and managers are often slow to react to cases of bullying because bullying is not always accepted as a credible label for the kind of abuse that employees face in the workplace.