TSSA banner being held by two women

What is a trade union?

What is a trade union?

There is power in a union. TSSA members have learnt what that means since our union was formed (as the National Association of General Railway Clerks) in 1897. It means that we’ll fight for and win better pay and conditions for our members. It means that we’ll win well-paid, secure jobs for our members, and fight to save jobs when contracts are under threat. It means that we’ll achieve better terms and conditions for our members. We’ll always have your back, and collectively we will build fairer, more equal workplaces. That’s what we mean when we say there is power in a union.

Trade unions exist to give workers a voice. As a union, we organise and represent our members in the transport and travel industries to act and speak collectively. The power of our collective voice is stronger than it could ever be for one worker alone. That is why – year after year – we are able to transform our industry for the better and achieve real gains for our members.

Our union negotiates with 100 employers across Britain and Ireland, which means that as a TSSA member you’re never alone. If you have an issue with your employer or manager, it is never you walking alone into that situation, it is the collective strength of over 18,000 of our members.

Through our reps, full time organisers and legal experts, we have achieved better terms and conditions for our members working in over 100 companies. Together we have achieved better maternity, parental and carer leave policies for our members. We have improved policies, procedures, pay and conditions. Our ability to negotiate for better conditions is only as strong as our membership, that is why it is vital that everyone is a member of a union. 

As a union we have achieved so much together. We have secured equal opportunities policies for our members, we have pursued fair pay across transport and travel industries, we have won safer workplaces and won compensation for our members when things go wrong. We have increased our members’ annual leave and improved shift arrangements.  

Our fully trained workplace representatives are the lifeblood of our movement. Our reps and organisers support members in disciplinaries and grievances at work and negotiate with employers to resolve issues including bullying and collective grievances. Our Health and Safety reps make sure that our members are safe at work. Our Union Learning Reps have improved and increased the training and career development opportunities offered to our members. 

TSSA wants to improve conditions not just in our workplaces, but in our communities and around the world. That’s why we campaign for the public ownership of our railways; that’s why we run campaigns for LGBT+ equality, against racism and against sexual harassment; that’s why we support solidarity movements for social justice around the world; and that’s why we support Labour candidates who are prepared to fight for transformative socialist ideas and are committed to building a democratic Labour Party that stands up for working people.

As a union our members are at the heart of everything we do. Our democratic structure ensures that members are represented by their Branches and Divisional Councils and that members have the ultimate say in union policy through our annual conference. We encourage members to become more active by taking up positions in their Branch or becoming reps. We also have additional self-organised groups to represent the members who are traditionally underrepresented within our movement: women, black members, LGBT, disabled members, and younger and older members.