The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) can trace its root back to 1897. As we approach our 125 anniversary in 2022, much has changed along the way.
Formed in 1897 as the National Association of General Railway Clerks, it became the Railway Clerks’ Association in 1899; then, in 1951, following the changes that took place in the transport industry during the post-war period, the current title of TSSA was adopted.
Single or Return, written by TSSA member Malcolm Wallace, is the first official history of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association and was published in 1996 as part of our centenary celebrations.
The book details many of the industrial and political changes faced by TSSA over the period and how the union and our members responded. From the first women working on the railways and becoming active in unions and politics, through to key industrial disputes and dates concerning privatisation and other major changes in our industries, this is a must read for anyone with an interest in railway and trade union history.
4 April 1897 An exploratory meeting for a railway clerks union was held at Sheffield Vestry Hall. Only 5 clerks were present, and a management spy reported back that “nothing would come of it”!
9 May 1897 First formal meeting of National Association of General Railway Clerks (renamed RCA in 1899) took place at the Wilberforce Café, Sheffield. Charles Basset-Vincent became our first General Secretary
1900 RCA formally registered as a trade union on the first day of the 20th century.
1906 RCA rejected a merger with other rail unions
1910 RCA welcomed its first woman member, C. Greenlees, and affiliated to the Labour Party
1914 General Secretary Alexander Walkden presented the case for rail nationalisation to Prime Minister Asquith.
1915 RCA annual conference welcomed its first woman delegate, Mamie Thompson
1916 RCA held its First National Women’s Conference
1918: Walkden meets Prime Minister David Lloyd George to call for rail nationalisation highlighting the success of government control during WW1
4 February 1919 The RCA achieved recognition by railway companies narrowly averting a strike – some members struck anyway having not received the message in time!
1926: RCA members went on strike from 4th May until 12 May as part of the General Strike
1927 The RCA established a National Women’s Organising Committee
1929 RCA General Secretary Alexander Walkden calls for a Channel Tunnel, a national pension scheme and the nationalisation of transport in a submission to a Royal Commission
1930 TSSA elected its first women EC member, Elsie Orman
1931: Bill introduced to put London Transport into public ownership
1939 – 1945 World War Two: 22,306 RCA members served in armed forces during war. 4,900 rail staff were recorded killed or missing during war. A further 392 were killed on railway duty, along with 181 London Transport staff.
1947: The Transport Act received Royal Assent, nationalising the rail network, buses, shipping, canals and (briefly) road haulage.
1951 The RCA becomes the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association
1952: 8 October Harrow rail crash - 21 TSSA members died, and over 40 were injured.
1956 Equal Pay achieved in British Rail
1958: Walkden House opens at Melton St., London on 10th October
1960 First black delegates elected to Annual Conference
1970 BR and LT introduce “Closed Shop” for most employees
17 April 1972: TSSA work to rule commences in BR over pay
1978 Amarjit Singh became the first Asian TSSA member to be elected as a Labour councillor
1980 First Black TSSA Executive Committee member, Claude James elected
1987 First woman National TSSA Treasurer, Brenda Hanks, elected
1991 Amarjit Singh became TSSA’s first Asian member to be elected a Mayor. He was also Newham Council’s first Asian Mayor.
1993 First woman TSSA President, Brenda Hanks, elected
1993: Railways Act passed, leading to privatisation under John Major’s government
2000: Women in Focus founded
2002: Arriva Trains Northern strike – the first TSSA rail strike since the General Strike in 1926
2004: First Asian TSSA National Treasurer, Amarjit Singh, takes office
7 July 2004: TSSA members killed and injured in 7/7 London bombings
2017 TSSA became the first union to become a Stonewall Diversity Champion.
2018: TSSA moved its head office from Melton Street, adjacent to London's Euston Station, to Devonshire Square, near Liverpool Street Station
2018: Inclusive Rail, our campaign to make the railways more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people, launched with a reception in Parliament
2021 Jhaenelle De Souza became TSSA’s first Black Woman EC member
2022: TSSA celebrates its 125th anniversary in Sheffield.