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January 2017 EC summary

1 February 2017

Summary of the key issues and decisions made at the meeting of TSSA's Executive Committee held on 19 and 20 January 2017

Industrial Relations
The General Secretary gave an update on the impact of both strike action and action short of strike taken by our stations members in London Underground, as part of our ongoing dispute with the company about station staffing and safety. It was reported that the strike had been impeccably supported, and that TSSA members in TfL had done well in declining to ‘volunteer’ as Travel Ambassadors during the strike. Talks continue at ACAS, and it is hoped that an agreement can be reached about the number of extra jobs that will be created, and at what grade.

The General Secretary gave an update on industrial relations at Bus Eireann. Cuts in government subsidies and the outsourcing of more lucrative routes have resulted in a 30% reduction in wages and huge reductions to rural bus services. The Irish Committee has already voted in favour of a ballot on strike action and industrial action short of strike, and instructed the General Secretary to ballot members accordingly. The EC fully supports the actions taken to date.

TSSA Democracy
The EC considered and agreed changes to model standing orders for branches and divisional councils in view of recent experience. The purpose of these changes is to confirm existing best practice with regard to circulating meeting notices and agendas no less than seven days in advance of meetings.

The EC also considered a report from the Rule Book Working Party. Their proposals will be circulated for consultation prior to a Special Delegate Conference later this year. The EC wishes to place on record its thanks to the working party, especially Luke Howard and Jill Murdoch, for their hard work on this important piece of work.

The EC considered a report on the outcomes of the General Secretary’s Democracy Tour and recent consultations. This report will be debated at the 2017 conference. The EC will reflect on the debate at the 2017 conference before deciding which if any rule changes will be necessary to give effect to the main thrust of the views expressed. These would be drafted for debate at Conference in 2018.

The EC agreed to set up a working party to consider the roles and responsibilities of workplace representatives and in particular those on extensive paid release. The working party will consist of at least three EC members led by the President, an Organising Director and a paid Organiser.

Organising and Membership
The EC considered a report on membership, which continued to decline in 2016, albeit at a much lower rate than in 2015. The EC also received an update on the Time to Grow training event taking place in Birmingham next month.
Political and Campaigning
Dr Faiza Shaheen from the left wing think tank, Class (the Centre for Labour and Social Studies), spoke to the EC about the organisation’s work over the past year and its plans for 2017. In conversation afterwards, it was noted that Class publications and events would be of considerable interest to TSSA members and should be promoted to them. Following this discussion, the EC agreed to make a donation of £5,000.

The EC also considered a report from the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) on its activities over the past year.
Andi Fox presented a report as our representative on the Labour NEC. The majority of appeals against suspensions of members have now been considered and received outcomes.

It was reported that the rally for a People’s Scotrail TSSA held at Holyrood was well attended, received considerable media attention. The Labour Party is fully in support, as is the Green Party. Discussions with some elements in the SNP continue.
The EC considered a proposal that TSSA and ASLEF, and potentially other rail unions, should fund a policy focussed member of staff in the office of Andy McDonald, the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, to develop a workable model for publicly run rail. The EC agreed to contribute £25-30,000 towards the cost.

The EC considered a request to send a representative to the Abortion Rights 2017 AGM in London on 11 February. No EC member was available, so it was agreed to open the offer to paid TSSA staff.

The EC considered correspondence from the Orgreave Truth & Justice Campaign, informing us of plans to hold a demonstration outside the Home Office on 13 March, to protest against the Home Secretary’s decision not to grant an inquiry into the infamous ‘Battle of Orgreave’. We agreed to promote this demonstration to our members.

The EC considered information about a demonstration in London at 12 noon on Saturday 4 March against NHS cuts, closures and privatisation. We agreed to promote this demonstration to our members.

The EC also considered correspondence from organisers of a series of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. It was agreed that we would promote these events to members. 

The EC considered an invitation to attend the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) Congress, Youth Conference and Women’s Conference, which are taking place in Barcelona in May 2017. It was agreed that TSSA’s representatives would be the General Secretary, Cheryl O’Brien and a member nominated by Future TSSA.

The EC considered an invitation to attend the GFTU’s Biennial General Council meeting in Quorn in May 2017. It was agreed that TSSA’s delegation would be the General Secretary, and a member nominated by Future TSSA.

The EC considered a letter from ZARWU, the Zimbabwean Amalgamated Railway Workers’ Union, an organisation under considerable financial pressure due to the oppressive behaviour of the Mugabe government. We have previously supported ZARWU financially and through a solidarity visit to their Congress. Sadly, their General Secretary, Kene Nemachena (who gave a memorable address at TSSA conference in 2015), has had to take medical retirement, and their constitution requires that they must hold another congress to elect a new GS. We agreed to write back expressing our sympathy and solidarity, and encouraging them to let us know how we may be able to help.

Financial and other matters
The EC received a verbal report on the future of Walkden House. When the Bill for the construction of HS2 receives Royal Assent, we expect to be approached about the possible purchase of Walkden House, either through a compulsory purchase order or by negotiation. A working party has been established and is finalising a strategy for this. Ian Anderson, one of our paid officials, has been seconded to plan for relocation, which may need to happen as soon as this summer.

The EC considered a report about a company called Trust Reservations which is used by the TUC and other unions to book hotel rooms for members and staff attending conferences etc. They also provide a service that individual union members can use to get discount rates when booking hotel rooms, and are also able to help members get free upgrades. TSSA will also receive a modest commission on bookings placed by members. It was agreed that this service would be advertised to members using the TSSA website.

The following requests for donations/sponsorship were agreed:
• Medical Aid for Palestinians - £50
• ACTSA ‘Speaks Louder Than Words’ campaign - £50
• Labour Action for Peace - £50
• Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival - £250
• Ron Todd Foundation - £50
• Red Paper Collective - £50

We also agreed to support the Firefighters 100 Lottery, an initiative by the Fire Brigades Union to raise funds for its five good causes.
We also received a letter of thanks for our donation to the QEF Foundation for Disabled People
The EC also considered and agreed two requests sent after the December EC meeting for Christmas Benevolent Grants

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