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TfL Strike: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

6 May 2014

A guide for staff at TfL, answering the most common questions about the strike

What am I expected to do during a strike?

TSSA will only take strike action once every other avenue of influence has been exhausted and when your officers and elected reps believe there is no other way to make members' views clear. It is a very serious sanction and that's why we ask that every member observes the strike.

Every member who does not observe the strike is directly undermining the union's bargaining power and making it harder for the union to protect all its members. When we call a strike we ask that members do not come into work. The best possible thing you can do is contact your local rep and volunteer to help out on the picket lines. It isn't illegal and it isn't dangerous.

Do I have to tell my employer that I am taking strike action?

It is often the case that management will send out formal-sounding letters telling you to declare in advance whether you will be taking industrial action. This can have the effect of misleading and intimidating members.

To be clear, you are under NO OBLIGATION to inform management in advance as to whether you will be taking part in strike action or action short of a strike. In order to fulfil legal requirements, employers have been provided with statistical information about TSSA members taking industrial action, but not individual names. However, if your manager asks you after the strike whether you took action, you should answer truthfully.

Am I breaking my contract by taking strike action?

All effective industrial action may be a breach of your contract of employment. However, because TSSA is conducting a statutory ballot and any action will be called formally, the law protects workers from dismissal whilst taking part in lawful industrial action or at any time within 12 weeks of the start of the action and, depending on the circumstances, dismissal may also be unfair if it takes place later.

What about the law and guidelines for picketing?

The point of the picket is to peacefully persuade members not to cross our picket lines ie to not go into work. Picketing is a legal activity and pickets should wear an armband indicating they are on duty. Placards and posters should be displayed stating 'OFFICIAL PICKET'.

Peaceful picketing is entirely legal. Picketing should be carried out at or near an entrance or exit from a site at which the members work. When others who are not in dispute come into work or use these entrances or exits, pickets must not interfere with them.

Do I have to reschedule work that I miss because of action?

No, TSSA's advice is that you do not reschedule work, including meetings. The point of taking action is to cause disruption in order to persuade the employers to return to negotiations.

Until what point can I join the union and still take part in strike action?

People can join the union at any point up to and including on the picket line on a day of action and lawfully join the strike. You can take part in action short of strike immediately, as soon as you have joined TSSA.

If you join TSSA before the close of the ballot, provided there is time you will also be able to vote in the ballot for action.

What is the point of taking action? What effect will I have?

TfL is an essential public service that ensures ALL forms of transport in London keep moving every day, and our work during the Olympics gained us public support and visibility. We perform many diverse but valuable roles and all play a part in delivering TfL’s objectives. During this dispute it is vital that we stand together and take action with our colleagues in Unite and RMT to demonstrates our strength and our resolve. Office staff are as important as customer-facing or operational staff.

Strikes are effective; London Underground refused to even negotiate until staff took action. We have tried to negotiate with TfL and they have refused. It is time for us to take action together to protect our livelihoods, both now and in the future.

For more information, see TfL Unions Together website.

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