ACAS has the difficult aim of bringing calmness and compromise in the face of anger, resentment and conflict.
Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes not - and often the difference between the two is down to dramatic, knife edge, last minute negotiations.
This documentary examines the work of ACAS, the service designed to help resolve industrial disputes, as its workload seems likely to increase with a rise in industrial tension as cuts hit the public sector.
During its time ACAS has handled a huge range of industrial disputes from the bitter battles of the winter of discontent in the 1970s and the miners dispute in the 1980s to the disputes of recent years at British Airways and the Royal Mail. Its history is a window on the changing history of British industrial relations since its foundation in 1974.
In this programme Carolyn Quinn talks to officials, employers and trade union leaders who have negotiated late into the night at ACAS, and explores the behind the scenes drama, tension and uncertainty of its work.
Producer Jane Ashley.