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TSSA seeks meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in Sexism row in ScotRail

6 May 2018

TSSA Is seeking a meeting with First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon after one of our senior union representatives was threatened with exclusion from future executive level meetings by ScotRail Managing Director, Alex Hynes.


At the end of an Executive and Trade Union meeting with rail union representatives on Wednesday, where Hynes had been ordered by Transport Minister Humza Yousaf to address the ScotRail CCTV staffing controversy which has led to a vote for strike action, Hynes asked our TSSA official to remain behind.

He then told our TSSA Scotland Organiser, she would be excluded from further talks with the company if her union boss, TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, did not refrain from making “personal” remarks about Hynes in public.

TSSA is dismayed ScotRail’s M.D. believes it an appropriate industrial relation strategy to threaten our union's democratic right to represent our members at the highest level.

TSSA is further dismayed by the fact that Hynes, in isolating our female organiser - the only female rail union organiser in Scotland - has behaved in an inappropriate, intimidatory and bullying manner to her. At any time would have been bad but this was actually her very first meeting with both the company and him.

TSSA refutes the accusation that General Secretary, Manuel Cortes has ever made any personal remarks about ScotRail MD in public or for that matter in private.

For the record, TSSA's last press release did mention the public fact that Alex Hynes earns £255,000 making him the highest paid civil servant in Scotland. With some of our parent and carer members facing the unreasonable choice of being forced by ScotRail's latest reorganisation to work compulsory nights or give up their jobs because they could not leave their children, we called on Hynes to earn his money and turn up to take control of negotiations himself.

We were glad he did so, and as a result of the new offer he was able to make to ensure the protection of the work-life balance of our parents we called off this weekend’s strike to enable meaningful talks to continue.

However TSSA female officials have been long concerned about misogyny and sexism in the male dominated rail industry in Scotland and at Scottish Transport.

Our General Secretary Manuel Cortes will raise the inappropriate behaviour of Hynes matter with Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf himself.

But we are now taking the unusual step of seeking a personal meeting with Ms Sturgeon and our Head of Communications and Media, Carmel Nolan and our Scottish Organiser to raise the issue of developing a strategy to tackle the entrenched cultures of institutional sexism in Scottish Transport and ScotRail once and for all.

“Isolating the only woman union official in the room then asking her to stay behind then threatening her with exclusion from future professional talks at her very first meeting with the company is no longer acceptable practice,” said Carmel.

“Women are still a rare breed in the Scottish - indeed the whole British - Transport industry. ScotRail’s normalised male senior management culture did not allow them to see the consequence that imposing night shifts on women with children meant those women were faced with the unacceptable choice of giving up their jobs or leaving their children home alone at night.

“And leading from the front in machismo, seems to have made Mr Hynes think it was OK to treat our female organiser in the inappropriate outdated manner of a naughty school girl. It is not OK to have done so.

“She is not responsible for the words of her General Secretary. She was in any case at her first meeting and not responsible for the strategy hitherto used in resisting the unthought through and unsafe cuts to the CCTV unit.

“Women in the rail industry, like women in politics, like women everywhere have too long had to put up with mansplaining and man complaining.

“And many women, like many men, will be puzzled to understand why Mr Hynes thinks revealing he was not at talks to resolve strike action at ScotRail despite earning a salary of £255,000 for the privilege of keeping the trains running constitutes an unacceptable “personal“ remark.

“Hynes is defensive, thin-skinned and clearly offended that our General Secretary has asked Humza Yousaf to intervene to make the company see sense. And that we have yet again won the PR battle with ScotRail whose vindictive management style shows why trades union membership is such a necessary feature of working life on ScotRail.

“Talks are now ongoing to resolve the dispute and maybe strike action over the Cup Final weekend can yet be averted.

In the meantime I’m seeking a woman-to-woman meeting with Nicola, because the fight against sexism at ScotRail certainly looks like it needs to be led by women. Nicola too is a female pioneer and will understand how women’s careers are blighted by male dominance of our industries.

“Stamping out sexism is too important to be left to tribal politics. Like TSSA, I’m sure Nicola believes in good grown up industrial and gender equality practice, and together we should be able to begin set in place a strategy in which she can lead from the very top the cascade change for the better against the everyday sexist experiences of women in the Scottish rail industry that Mr Hynes’ behaviour indicates is so badly needed and in the process we will help build a better, more equal Scotland.”


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