Acas have published a report which highlights the power of social media to rapidly organise large groups of people – as seen in England’s riots and subsequent clean up – which presents new challenges for industrial relations as well as public order.
The report, ‘Social media and its impact on employers and trade unions’, shows that social networking has already directly influenced how some industrial disputes have been conducted. The accessibility and speed of tools such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook mean that workers can be mobilised more quickly than ever. They can also make it easier to collaborate with other campaign or interest groups. The reports cites the East Lindsey Refinery disputes as an example where much of the organising was done via websites, enabling a local dispute to spread to over 20 other construction sites across the country overnight. The report also says that parties involved in Acas talks must be able to have free and open discussions without the details being broadcast more widely.
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