1. ITV Report

Birmingham bin strikes: What is Acas?

The strikes have led to a build up of waste on the city's streets. Credit: ITV News Central

Birmingham's bin strike could come to an end if Unite the union and Birmingham City Council are able to come to an agreement.

Talks have been taking place today between the City Council leader John Clancy and the union to try to resolve the bitter dispute over changes to the city's bin collection service.

ITV News Central has been told the talks are being held at the conciliatory and arbitration service Acas.

Euston Tower in London where Acas are based. Credit: PA Images

Everything you need to know about the mediator:

  • Who are Acas?

Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. They provide free and impartial information and advice to employers and employees on all aspects of workplace relations and employment law. It’s an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.

  • What does the process involve?

Acas conciliation is a process where someone from the service works with the parties involved to come to a mutually agreed outcome. There are no rules and the Acas conciliator will not take sides or express any judgements about either party’s position.

We try to take the heat out the situation, we listen, we challenge assumptions, we throw in new ideas, ask speculative questions, and, above all, we try to find common ground to narrow the gap between the parties.

– John Woods, Acas Deputy Chief Conciliator
  • What disputes have they been involved in?

Over the last year, Acas has dealt with a large number of collective disputes such as London Underground, UK airports baggage handlers and British Airways cabin crew.

  • How often do they succeed?

In 2016/17 they were involved with 744 national and regional disputes in a wide range of sectors and helped to settle nine out of ten collective disputes. The service says having a third person to mediate is often more successful than constant back and forth messages between the two sides.

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