Hands together with purple filter with TSSA & Boilermakers logo's

TSSA talks with IBB

TSSA talks with the Boilermakers


There are serious challenges facing our industries. Our railways, transport systems and travel trade have all been hit incredibly hard by the pandemic and we are expecting significant headcount reductions and funding restrictions or cuts in the coming year. In many places we are seeing this already.

These are real and present threats to our organisation and require a serious pro-active response from our union so that we can continue to represent and support our members. In light of this, our TSSA conference in September 2021 authorised the General Secretary to continue talks with the Boilermakers. The talks were entered into based on the principles set out below. 

Meet the Boilermakers

More information and updates


These are the 17 principles on which the discussions with the Boilermakers are based on, as agreed by TSSA conference September 2021:

  1. Post merger our union would be a district within the IBB and promoted as “TSSA, part of the IBB family” and would form part of a new IBB Railroad, Transport and Travel Sector. For the purposes of this report our union post merger will be referred to as “The District”.
  2. The District will have delegated authority for all industrial, policy and political decisions within The District and as such would be autonomous in its decision making. Provisions will also be put in place to ensure compliance with Irish trade union legislation so that all industrial and political decisions affecting Ireland are made in Ireland as is currently the case. The District will continue to affiliate to the TUC, STUC, WTUC, ICTU, the British and Irish Labour parties and through the IBB, to the ITF and ETF.
  3. The IBB Constitution will contain a clause to give effect to The District and to the existence of The District sub-section to the IBB Constitution. The District sub-section will allow for a District Biennial Conference (DBC) and delegates for such will be elected in a similar way as those currently elected to our Annual Delegate Conference. The DBC will be the only body capable of making changes to the rules of The District sub-section of the IBB rule book subject to endorsement by the IBB Executive Board and will also be responsible for setting policy for the District.
  4. It will be made clear to members that whilst the IBB Constitution applies to all members of the IBB, The District sub-section of that Constitution will be relevant to members of The District only.
  5. The District will have clearly defined rights within the IBB democratic structures with participation at the IBB Convention and in the annual conference for the new IBB Railroad, Transport and Travel Sector.
  6. The District will have an elected National Secretary for Britain and Ireland (National Secretary hereafter) who will have the right to speak but not vote at all District Committee meetings if he/she so chooses, however, all industrial, policy and political decisions within The District belong with The District Committee and/or District Biennial Conference - except for Ireland as is currently the case within our union. This is in line with the current constitution of the IBB which delegates autonomy to various subordinate bodies of the IBB in the conduct of their affairs, including organising activities, the negotiation and administration of collective bargaining agreements, and engaging in economic activity to that end where not done by the IBB itself.
  7. The National Secretary will control and be responsible for all staff matters relating to all organising staff of The District who will be based in Britain and Ireland.
  8. The District will be managed by a District Committee, which will meet at least once every three months. However, the District Committee can hold special meetings to consider emergency issues – the National Secretary and The District President and District Vice-President (the National Officers) have the power to decide when to hold meetings over and above quarterly ones.
  9. Members of the District Committee will be elected by members within the District constituencies every four years from nominations sent in by branches within each District constituency. Branches will only be entitled to nominate one member for each seat within their constituency. Each candidate will require at least two nominations. The National Secretary will receive general direction from the District Committee and consequently will not have a vote on District Committee business.
  10. For Leadership Elections purposes (i.e. Chapter IV of TULR(C)A 1992) and drawing comparison with our current structures, the District Committee will effectively be similar to our current Executive Committee and the National Secretary role will also be similar to the current General Secretary but only be responsible for organising staff based in Britain and Ireland. Leadership election ballots for the District Committee will be conducted within set constituencies whilst those for the District President, Vice-President and National Secretary would see the entire District membership vote. All elections will be based on one member one vote ballots and restricted to members in Britain and Ireland.
  11. The District Committee/BDC will not have the power to make decisions or set out policies relating to issues that might affect the IBB as a whole.
  12. The District Committee will be allocated a budget each year which will include all of the funds generated from the membership fees of members in Britain and Ireland. All decisions in respect of the management of that budget will belong with the District Committee who may delegate day to day spending decisions to the National Secretary. The IBB through its Secretary-Treasurer and their accounting department will ensure that administrative and professional support is provided to the District to ensure accounts are maintained in good order.
  13. Capital assets currently owned by TSSA will transfer to IBB, however, The District will continue to manage these assets and the returns from these assets can be allocated to the budget of The District for their use or be re-invested. Consequently, The District will elect its own Trustees to invest and manage these assets following consultation with the IBB Secretary-Treasurer.
  14. The IBB has a number of dedicated funds including those for members education and organising which the District will have access to. These funds contain significant resources running into several tens of millions of dollars per year. These funds could for example be accessed to finance the equivalent of TSSA’s current Strategic Organising and Campaigns Team. In addition, the IBB can provide financial assistance to the District.
  15. Audited Reports and Accounts of the IBB as a whole would be published as per the IBB Constitution and as such would be available to all members and the Certification Officer (CO). The District will maintain financial records relating to all its income and expenditure and these will be the subject of report to the Certification Officer and members of the IBB within The District on an annual basis. IBB would file an Annual Return with the CO in respect of The District membership (and audit) and finances etc, just as our union currently does.
  16. The IBB will employ business, administrative and support staff to facilitate the effective and efficient operation of the International, its Districts and Sectors. These staff will be located where required after taking account of the need to ensure that the location of staff will be decided on the basis of their cost effectiveness and members needs as the IBB will operate over many different time zones and countries. An agreement will be reached with the IBB on what contribution the District needs to make for this support but this is expected to be far less than the costs currently incurred by our union to undertake these tasks due to economies of scale.
  17. Much of the current TSSA Rule Book would be transcribed into The District Rule Book to ensure that for example our existing branch structure stays in place.

Further info

We will publish more information to these web pages as it becomes available.

Link to member email: All-member email 20 September 2021 titled 'Our union’s future: in your hands'

TSSA Helpdesk

0800 328 2673 United Kingdom

1800 805 272 Republic of Ireland

Helpdesk Enquiry Form

Member advice from our Helpdesk

If you are a TSSA member and are looking for advice or assistance in connection with your employment or membership, you can contact our Members’ Helpdesk.

We can advise on a range of workplace issues including; discipline and grievance hearing, maternity rights and redundancy.

Helpdesk opening hours: 09:00 - 17:00 Monday - Thursday  |  09:00 - 16:00 Friday

Please note: we cannot undertake to provide advice to non-members, to members of other unions, or to members on behalf of their partners/friends. If you are not yet a member, please join TSSA online.