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October 2010

Union officials use of ACAS conciliation services

LRD undertook research for ACAS on the use and non-use of ACAS conciliation services. At its centre was a full, structured survey to map officials' views, strategies and behaviours: 1,024 officials from 63 trade unions responded, making this one of the most comprehensive surveys of paid union negotiating officials in recent times.

The survey showed that most negotiators are still encountering collective disputes - nine-in-ten officials had dealt with some form of industrial dispute over the past decade, 69% of whom had brought Acas in at some point during that time. But some FTOs had rarely or never used Acas, partly due to some misconceptions:

  • a majority of officials wrongly thought that conciliation results in a solution being chosen for the parties by Acas

  • a quarter of respondents did not know that Acas is independent of government

  • some officials saw Acas as only being appropriate at the point where communications have reached a complete breakdown

  • some officials who had not used collective conciliation did not see what solutions Acas could find that they couldn't find themselves.

The research paper is available for download at


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