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Keeping the heat on! Building our political voice

4 March 2013

Sam Tarry, TSSA’s newly-appointed political officer introduces our work to increase members’ political power in the run up to the next election.


We are now just over two years out from what could be one of the most pivotal elections in decades. With austerity policies driving down living standards and the industries TSSA members work in facing huge challenges, we need to build our collective power to lead change and influence decision-makers in our communities and to shape the debate at a national level.

Before becoming TSSA’s first ever political officer, I’ve been running campaigns in the community organising team, from ‘Sack Boris’ to building coalitions on fares and against staffing cuts. Outside of work, I’m a Labour councillor in Barking and Dagenham, so used to the challenges of engaging and representing people locally.

TSSA recognises that as a smaller union, our numbers alone don’t guarantee we’ll be heard. We need to punch above our weight to get the best deal for members and to win on the issues that matter to our union. Whether that be on public ownership of rail, our Better Rail strategy, or in the development of members seeking to become political representatives themselves, we need to get organised. We need to build our power – and our ability to support those politicians fighting our corner, and of course opposing those that don’t. We need a stronger voice – and my work as political officer will be to help build this.

We also want to work with TSSA members interested in becoming political representatives, offering training on how to become a local councillor, or even an MP, MSP or AM. We will be organising campaigning in support of TSSA-endorsed candidates at elections and running more training on community organising.

To build our political power as a union – you – as a member, are essential. Could you help with these campaigns, think about standing for election, or speak to people in your workplace or community? We’ll be there to support you every step of the way.

Pioneering community organiser Saul Alinsky once said, ‘Action comes from keeping the heat on. No politician can sit on a hot issue if you make it hot enough.’ Let’s tiurn up the heat! 7

• Interested in being involved? Contact Sam Tarry on


TSSA has a longstanding and positive relationship with the Labour Party – but we know that we need to build our power within it as well as better support those members already involved so we can win on our issues. We need more TSSA members equipped with the knowledge and confidence to get involved, and to think about standing for office, at a local, devolved, UK or European level. If you are a member of the Labour Party (or indeed another party) we would be very keen to hear from you. Whether you are active, hold a position, or are just interested in meeting other TSSA members who are also involved in the Labour Party, then please get in touch. We are looking to launch a new TSSA Labour Network later this year and we want as many members involved as possible.


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