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TSSA wins recognition at Amey Consulting

2 March 2012

A year-long campaign led by TSSA reps has resulted in another 500 staff at Amey winning the right to collectively negotiate their pay and conditions.

Amey

Nearly 150 new members joined the Union in the last three months of the campaign as reps held staff meetings at Amey’s sites from Bristol to Perth.

‘When I signed up as a Learning Rep I never thought I’d be stood up speaking in front of 30 of my colleagues’, says Paul Messenger. ‘I wanted to explain how we have no voice without a union, so I started talking very quietly from a corner of the room. They all complained they couldn’t hear what I was saying. ‘That’s like us talking to management unless we all get together in TSSA’, I said. People understood straight away – so we collected in the joining forms there and then!’

Not all the meetings went as smoothly. ‘We got some hard questions from staff. They wanted to know that we would be more effective as a union – we faced up to the questions and people respected that. We took responsibility for past mistakes and asked them to take responsibility as well – to join in and help make the change. That’s what our union is all about.’

‘Think big’, says Bridge Examiner and Company Council Rep, Colin Savage, ‘If you plan small, you’ll get small results. If you think big, you can achieve great things. We have a vision of where we want to be. Collective bargaining gives us a voice – it’s the first step – but our goal is to achieve greater fairness and a more enjoyable working life for everyone at Amey’.

Successive TUPE transfers, new contracts and resistance from the employer had created a situation where TSSA was only negotiating for 30 per cent of staff. Those outside collective bargaining had personal contracts and were seeing their pay and conditions eroded. Those within the recognised group saw their bargaining power weakened by the division in the workforce.

When our Reps got together to discuss the issues, they all felt the same – we needed to build a unified, unionised workforce and create a level playing field for all. ‘I knew we would win from the first time I met the other reps’ adds Colin. ‘I had not long become a rep and I thought ‘they know their stuff’. We arrived as individuals and left as a team.’

‘I feel like we are a family now’, says Birmingham-based Rep, Patricia Massop. ‘Even when times were tough, the guys kept me going. Now, I don’t always have to contact my Regional Organiser for help and advice, we work as a team of reps to support each other.’

Patricia points to the 48 hour strike for pay and recognition as a pivotal moment in the campaign. ‘The strike was something I never thought I’d do. I never thought people would back it. But we organised picket lines and it showed me that members were prepared to do something.’

Colin feels that the key to success was the mapping and research that was done. ‘Not ust doing it as a paper exercise, but actually using it to help build the campaign. We weren’t scared to try anything. We used text messages, surveys, newsletters, emails, internet, phone calls, but the most important thing was speaking to people face to face. Our research told us who to talk to, where they were based, and what issues affected them.’

The campaign has been about giving staff a real voice; listening to members and taking their issues seriously. Scottish-based Examiner, Graham Whiteford talks about how much it means to him and his colleagues to be part of a real union organisation: ‘As examiners, we are always out at different sites. Sometimes it feels like we’re on our own. All the guys are really happy that TSSA has linked us up with the other examiners across Britain. Now we can work together to ensure we are treated with the respect we deserve.’

Patricia sums up her experience: ‘My advice to anyone is don’t let management walk all over you; do something! Even if it doesn’t work, at least you’ve tried to make a difference.’

If you are facing a similar situation to our members at Amey, or if you want to help build a better future where you work, contact TSSA’s Organising Team for advice and support in getting started: organising@tssa.org.uk.

 

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