ACAS arbitration : continuity and change
This thesis examines the arbitration function of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service [ACAS] as one form of third party intervention in British industrial relations. It provides an explanation for the apparent contradiction between the stance taken by Conservative governments post- 1979 to trade union reform on the one hand; and the survival of an agency which maintains many of the attitudes and practices associated with the past on the other. In spite of government rhetoric and changes which have occurred in the period examined, it is argued that the key attitudes and practices in relation to arbitration have not altered significantly over time. Questionnaire surveys of arbitrators and the parties to arbitration were conducted in conjunction with a study of arbitration awards over the period 1942-1985. These revealed that many of the debates relating to arbitration, including support for voluntarism and resistance to compulsion in the process, the criteria for the appointment of arbitrators with appropriate skills and experience and the factors which arbitrators should consider in making their awards, have their foundation in the early part of this century: that the main focus of criticisms of arbitration surround issues of pay and terms and conditions of employment and that they were unfounded: and that the majority of parties to arbitration were satisfied with the service they received. The practice of arbitration was located within the corporatist theory debate and it was contended that elements of corporatist and pluralist relationships and networks within ACAS had survived the election of a government openly hostile to both corporatism and quangos. Explanations for the survival of ACAS and the arbitration service as one form of third party intervention can be found within the corporatist and dualist debate and understood within the context of the role which arbitration has played in the history of British industrial relations.