Employers give thumbs up to Ed Sweeney as new Acas chair

The appointment of a life-long trade unionist as the new chair of conciliation service Acas has been welcomed by employers.

Ed Sweeney, deputy general secretary of Unite – Amicus section – will replace Rita Donaghy as chair when she retires on 1 October. Sweeney has spent 30 years in a variety of trade union roles, chiefly in the finance sector.

He also served as a member of the Accounting for People Taskforce in 2005, has worked with the Employment Tribunal Services, and was an independent reviewer on the government’s Deregulatory Review on Occupational Pensions.

The three-year Acas appointment commands an annual salary of £63,470, with the possibility of one re-appointment.

David Yeandle, deputy director of employment policy at the EEF manufacturers’ organisation, said Sweeney was a “thoughtful individual”. He added: “The future of Acas is in safe hands.”

The CBI said the new appointment was “positive”. A spokeswoman for the body said: “We want the right person for the job, and [Sweeney] has won a lot of respect from employers by his recent pensions work.”

The government has broken the mould by appointing a union leader to succeed fellow unionist Donaghy.

Previously, appointments have alternated between those with an employer and those with a union background.

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