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Going Beyond Blog of Learning Opportunities

This blog is a place to share the learning opportunities through Going Beyond, our Communities of Practice education programme.  You can request to join a Community of Practice here:

 Displaying posts 1 - 8 of 8

  • Understanding VUCA

    Author: Luke ChesterPosted: 19 May 2021

    Understanding VUCA - As we emerge from a global pandemic, we are left with a whole set of ‘unknowns’ that will permanently affect the social, political, economic, and technologically landscape. The ‘new normal’ will be the way we operate now, but what is it? Does anyone know? Has anyone got a plan for it?

    If you are feeling a tad overwhelmed by it all, take stock in the fact that it’s nothing new... it’s something we’ve been dealing with for at least the last 50-60yrs. It’s just that it’s speeding up – this ‘new normal’ is called VUCA.

    The US military first coined the term at the end of the cold war to describe the lack of clarity they were facing - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. This is something we recognise only too well in the transport and travel sector.

    The series we are running on VUCA isn’t designed to eliminate VUCA because you can’t, and it’s here to stay. Still, the workshops and facilitated discussion groups will help increase your understanding and awareness of the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity that you are facing and help you think about strategies and approaches to help you cope and navigate them.

    Come and join us and become part of a proactive group, and together we will start to understand what we can do and create a vision for navigating our way through it.

    Luke Chester

    TSSA Organising Director

    Strategic Organising & Campaigns Team


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  • Challenge Bullying 2020

    Author: Nadine RaePosted: 13 November 2020

    In May 2020, TSSA launched our Addressing Bullying and Harassment Community of Practice as part of our new education initiative, Going Beyond. Since then we have had several events and discussions to explore what causes bullying and harassment and in what ways can we change our workplace culture to make them more inclusive.16-20 november is Anti-Bullying Week part of our community of practice learning we are holding our first ever TSSA Challenge Bullying Conference. This is an online event to delve even deeper into how we can address bullying and harassment. Click Read More to find out what we will discuss in Challenge Bullying 2020...

    Over the year some questions have led our spiral of learning on this theme, thinking about how we address bullying and harassment at work. Here are just some:

    ‘What would a bully-free workplace look like?’

    The opposite of a bullying culture is not the absence of bullying, but in fact a culture that when described, is inclusion, empathy, kindness, connection. Those elements need to be lived through our organising and the approach to this issue, as they need to be modelled to be embedded in the workplace.

    ‘Who has examples of best practice that we can learn from?’

    Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone can say they are a model of best practice, as no one has yet eliminated bullying and harassing behaviours from their organisations. It seems more realistic at this moment in time to think about the journey we are going on, acting and reflecting on what is working, what is not, and building towards an inclusive workplace. There is still a lot to understand in terms of why people bully, what enables these behaviours and therefore what practical things can an organisation and individuals do to stop it.

    If the opposite of a bullying culture is inclusion, empathy, kindness and connection, then

    ‘What are we doing to make our workplaces more inclusive?’

    I spoke to Loraine Martins, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Network Rail this week, who said clearly that we are all ambassadors for the good and not so good in our industry; that our work on inclusion runs parallel to any work we can do to address bullying and harassment in the workplace. Loraine spoke to me of the need to be consistent, develop trust so that people are confident to speak up about their experiences or intervene when they observe bullying and harassing behaviours. The challenge she said, is to reach that level of consistency.

    ‘Is our approach to addressing bullying and harassment critical in the outcome, or does it just matter that it ends?’

    This is a question that pops into my head when the catch phrase ‘Zero Tolerance’ is said, not because the sentiment is not right, but because fighting might with might, doesn’t quite feel right to me. Many people use that term and for good reasons. Whilst potentially a controversial opinion, Zero Tolerance is not a phrase I would naturally associate with inclusion, empathy, kindness and connection, even though bullying behaviours should not be tolerated. Language plays a strong part in creating an inclusive environment and culture. Shouldn’t we reflect on the language and behaviours we want everyone to adopt, and ensure our way of addressing bullying includes that language and behaviour and reinforces that new culture?

    Jon Everest of Victoria University of Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand is an expert in Restorative Practice. He shared with me his thoughts on how the language of the justice system does not translate well into the workplace. Concepts of perpetrators or offenders and victims, can only lend itself to people seeking to defend themselves, not reflect on their behaviours and acknowledge their part in the process, and change. Similarly, the mechanisms of investigation, disciplinaries and grievances identify only two people affected, the bully and the victim, and simply seeks to identify what rule they have broken and how they can be punished. In reality, Jon suggests their colleagues are often aware of what is going on and when the investigation ends, there is still residual harm done to the entire workplace that is usually not addressed at all. Neither is there always exploration of what an organisation can do to prevent it from happening again. While there is a place for formal processes, if we are to truly address bullying and harassment, we need to go beyond our current approach and understanding of injustice and seek to restore the workplace relationships between all people affected, following any harm that has occurred.

    We will hear more form Loraine Martins and Jon Everest at our Challenge Bullying event and explore the concepts of Restorative Practice, Diversity and Inclusion in more detail in our Community of Practice throughout 2021 and beyond.

    Challenge Bullying as an event has resonated with many members. We have had more applications for this than any education event in the past ten years. For some of those who will attend, it is because they are facing this issue in the workplace right now. For others, they want to know how to support colleagues or make a difference in their workplace. Either way, it is clear the work of our TSSA Addressing Bullying and Harassment Community of Practice in 2021 will be extremely important to changing member’s lives for the better. Challenge Bullying is not simply what we need to do, but a challenge we set ourselves to change workplace culture, not simply get better at what we are currently doing as it is not going to create the difference our members want.

    TSSA will continue to lead on addressing bullying and harassment through building our community of practice and applying our learning to our work changing lives. If you want to be part of our CoP you can request to join here:

    Nadine Rae

    TSSA Organising Director

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  • Going Beyond for Racial Equality

    Author: Nadine RaePosted: 30 October 2020

    Going Beyond for Racial Equality - TSSA's New Community of Practice

    October was Black History Month and I am pleased that TSSA has been active and focussed on bringing people together around issues of race in the workplace. In response to our members who are BAME and who wish to support BAME colleagues, we have established our Going Beyond for Racial Equality Community of Practice, to explore what we can do as a union to improve equality, diversity and inclusion for BAME people in our workplaces. Click 'Read More'...

    Over the past two years we have worked to build an active BAME network and really explore the lived experiences of our members who are from black, asian and minority ethnicity communities. Unfortunately for some members, those experiences have included casual and blatant racism, subtle micro-aggressions and experiences that make workplaces feel unsafe, unsupportive and in some cases hostile. The impact on people facing this kind of environment each day, is extremely damaging to mental health, self-esteem and their ability to perform and contribute at work. In some cases, safety can be compromised, where bias and prejudice clouds the decision making and reactions of people in safety critical roles and roles that manage other people. During the covid pandemic, safety for BAME people has been a significant concern. Our BAME members who are key workers have raised concerns about their exposure to Covid-19 through their job roles and we have worked tirelessly with employers and government to ensure they and others are safe. In times when you know you are at a higher risk than other people, you need to also feel confident your concerns are being heard and will be addressed, and that you are safe at work. More than ever TSSA is needed by BAME workers in transport and travel.

    We also have other members who have been moved by local and global events this year and want to know what they can do to end racism and support BAME colleagues. Our work building the Inclusive Rail campaign for LGBT+ people has made it clear that allyship is essential for changing negative culture and making our workplaces inclusive. We encourage anyone who wants to be an ally for BAME people to get involved in our community of practice. Our BAME members want to have the same opportunities to contribute and progress in their careers that other people experience and we all can help that become a reality.

    Going Beyond for Racial Equality is a community of practice that will help all TSSA members and supporters talk about race, about prejudice, about privilege, about equality and find practical ways we can bring about change and make our workplaces inclusive of BAME people. You can request to be part of the community of practice here:

    Nadine Rae

    TSSA Organising Director


    If you have any about your safety at work due to covid-19 visit or contact our helpdesk



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  • Karen Breakspear, Going Beyond for members

    Author: Karen BreakspearPosted: 07 July 2020

    It became apparent early on in my role as a rep that ‘if not me then who’. Because of the good work TSSA does on equality issues, more people are coming to me and other reps with more complex cases; cases that can't be resolved simply by representing people through disciplinary and grievance processes. You have to go beyond, identify and work with the people who can influence decisions to create the change required in the company. Read on to hear Karen's story Going Beyond...

    I wanted to help create an environment that recognised going above and beyond was something our reps quietly and consistently do all the time. For new reps, this was something that was often learned through doing, rather than taught specifically in our education programmes. To support them we needed some way of creating a ‘feed it back’ circle of learning and reflection, so supporting each other to grow which in turn helps our members. We must listen to learn, and learn to listen. Going Beyond provides this as an everyday experience and becomes the learning and the knowledge bank for reps and members - way to go TSSA!

    Karen Breakspear

    TSSA Equality & Industrial Rep

    Our Going Beyond programme was thus named and is already making an impact on reps, members and potential members alike. Keep following this blog for more learning opportunities and how you can go beyond for members.


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  • Important information for New TSSA Reps

    Author: Nadine RaePosted: 01 July 2020

     When starting your journey as a TSSA Workplace Rep it can really help to get information on your role, your rights and how you can support members through workplace issues as soon as possible. Here is a quick summary of some key information that will help you get started in your role. Keep reading to find out more…

    ACAS Code of Practice 1 – Disciplinary and Grievances

    Your employer will have processes and policies on disciplinary and grievances, negotiated with the union, and they should reflect the key principles included in this code of practice and associated guides. TSSA may have negotiated better and stronger policies and you will need to follow those specifically when representing members, so do remember to ask for and check your company documents. This code of practice is periodically updated so refer back to the website to keep up to date. Please note for information on Ireland and Northern Ireland please contact our Helpdesk.

    ACAS Code of Practice 3 – Time off for Trade Union Activities & Duties

    One of the first questions a new rep asks is “Can I get time off for that union meeting?”. This code of practice will help you understand what you are entitled to in terms of time off. Often further clarity is required so TSSA may have negotiated specific arrangements with your employer. If you have any difficulty in getting paid release for union meetings and activities, discuss it with your union organiser or contact the Helpdesk to see what can be done. Ongoing issues of release can be very frustrating for reps, so addressing this early on is important. This code of practice is periodically updated so refer back to the website to keep up to date. Please note for information on Ireland and Northern Ireland please contact our Helpdesk.

    Health & Safety Executive – Consulting Workers on Health & Safety

    Written by the Health & Safety Executive as a guide for employers, this book outlines the law and guidance on how to consult and involve employees and their representatives (that's you!) on health and safety matters at work under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations 1977 (as amended) and the Health and Safety (Consultation with Employees) Regulations 1996 (as amended). It explains the relationship between the two sets of regulations and how they affect you and your workforce; in some workplaces you may have to consult under both sets of regulations. Again, find out about your workplace processes, committees and structures also, to ensure they are complying with the regulations and any agreements with TSSA.

    10 Reasons to Join and Support Equality Poster

    TSSA Equality Agenda

    Our union takes the lead on equality in our industries. Our Equality Agenda sets out the good work we are doing and how members can get involved. Our strategy to engage employers in these issues and create real change for our members is explained here, along with 10 reasons why people should join TSSA and support equality!

    Reps Areas

    Our TSSA Website includes areas for reps where we have many resources and tools to support you dealing with a variety of issues. Don’t wait for the course or event that will cover the issues you are working on now – look through this information and get the support you need immediately.


    Any member of TSSA can access our Helpdesk on a range of issues. Not only for emergencies, you will have a direct line to our solicitors and be able to source any point of law or be signposted to the right support within your union to tackle your issue. As a rep, this is an invaluable resource where you can ask specific questions about legal matters to help with a case or be linked with other reps in your area to discuss any matters further.

    Going Beyond

    Our Going Beyond Community of Practice approach to education is a key part of the support and development of every TSSA Rep, especially when you are starting out in your role. All new reps will be added to the Onboarding Community of Practice for New Reps once you have completed your first Reps Intro Session. Over the first 6-12 months in your role, through the Community of Practice (CoP) you will have access to a range of information, events, materials and network opportunities to help you in your role. Your learning will be continuous and you will have the ability in the CoP to identify and answer questions on topics that matter in your workplace now.

    For more information on Going Beyond and Communities of Practice visit

    So if you haven’t already, request to attend the next Reps Intro courses, read the information and resources in this blog post and start your learning journey as a TSSA Workplace Rep today!

    Nadine Rae

    TSSA Organising Director


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  • Updates on your Communities of Practice

    Author: Nadine RaePosted: 07 June 2020

    I am excited and motivated by the way you and other TSSA members are embracing our Going Beyond programme and Community of Practice (CoP) approach to education. The opportunities are endless for us to learn about key themes and topics in a deeper way, steering us to the right path to address key issues for TSSA members. Here are a few of the ways that Going Beyond will deliver for our members:

    1. People who join a CoP will be influencing the programme of learning, through the questions you have as a result of attending an event, or reading a blog post or taking part in a discussion. New information will be sourced or a new event will be developed to meet your learning need.
    2. Education resources will be developed as we go along, either from recording a guest speaker at an event, or sharing articles we find on a topic, etc.
    3. Learning can happen all the time and is not restricted to in-person meetings or events. Our interactions and online resources are there for you all the time, right when you need it.
    4. Going Beyond expands our learning opportunities from our traditional education approach of in-person events, to include online video conference events, blogs, social media interaction, more space to talk and develop our understanding through specific events that generate discussion, not just impart knowledge.
    5. Each CoP will follow a Spiral of Learning that will lead us to make conclusions and apply our learning in a practical way to the benefit of all TSSA members. Hence - community of practice.

    We are building momentum in this new approach. Here is an update for you on each CoP.

    Addressing Bullying & Harassment

    The first CoP to be launched, there are now several Blog posts and two online events that have been held and well attended. CoP Organiser, Andy Hollingsworth has also organised two upcoming CoP discussion events to bring CoP members together to talk through people's learning from the guest experts. You can find the event information here: People are clearly searching for answers on how to address bullying and harassment, which is exactly what the CoP aims to do in all our exploration of ideas, culminating in our Challenge Bullying conference to be held in November.

    Mental Health & Wellbeing

    This is by far our most popular community of practice for TSSA members. CoP Organiser Steve Loft has been a long time member of TSSA and has shared some of his expertise and knowledge in the field of mental health and wellbeing in this Going Beyond Blog. Do search for his blog posts using the 'Author' filter function on the right hand side of the Blog page.

    The learning from this CoP is going to be critical to enable TSSA to transform workplaces, making them more responsive and accepting of people's mental health and wellbeing needs. Upcoming events include a first discussion with the CoP Our Question on Mental Health where you will have a say in what events and topics the CoP will explore in the rest of 2020. We also are holding A Global Conversation on Mental Health with international guests sharing the challenges in their contexts and how they link with our own. This CoP will be part of launching TSSA's Mental Health & Wellbeing Equality Bargaining Standard this year.

    Flexible Working

    We are in the middle of a global experiment of remote working, which is one way to provide flexibility in work. So how are we going to make the most of that? Our first event for this CoP will be for Reps to discuss what good practice we want to keep as a union. This will be followed by an event to be scheduled in July, with people who are leading change for their company's in the area of flexible working. This CoP will be developing TSSA's new Equality Bargaining Standard for Flexible Working, through exploring new concepts and innovation and learning what makes a difference and identifying the key components our union needs to set as our our standard.

    Representing Members

    Our first two events for this CoP were around the subject of a Safe Return to Work during Covid-19. More events will be scheduled from July.

    Onboarding of New Reps

    We have a great opportunity to provide new reps with the best learning experience we have ever been able to provide, through the community of practice approach. Our first online Reps Intro Sessions have been scheduled to give a grounding in the role of a rep. This will be bolstered with online learning on our Blog and interaction in our social media spaces. Some of our experienced reps will be sharing their knowledge and experience through our CoP, providing a group mentoring experience.

    Future of Rail

    This is another popular CoP with members and also potential members. We haven't announced any events yet but we have some exciting events on the boil including accessibility of our railway and what that means for the future of rail, driving innovation in technology, exploring public funding of infrastructure, and we will be sharing new rail environmental resources. This CoP is where we hope our members who are leading on innovation will share their experiences and vision for the future of rail, so do get in touch if you have something you would like to share.

    Neurodiversity at Work

    TSSA members are extremely proud of our work on neurodiversity. Establishing this CoP will amplify the learning of our Equality Reps, acknowledging their expertise, and drive commitments to our Neurodiversity at Work Equality Bargaining Standard. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of TSSA's research report that launched our Neurodiversity Programme and this CoP will be setting the direction of our work in this area for the next 10 years. Events will be announced starting in September.

    Leading People

    Our members who manage people or aspire to manage others are going to benefit significantly from our new community of practice approach. Almost every CoP will explore an element of leadership, so our Leading People CoP will benefit from the accumulated learning from our entire Going Beyond programme! Over the next two months a series of events will be announced on leadership, including specific events on leading in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, or 'VUCA', environment.

    Skills Reps

    Our union learning reps and those who are supporting Apprentices, or working on issues of performance reviews and career progression will be leading TSSA's skills agenda. Understanding how the transport and travel industries are changing will be critical to establishing a strategy to reskill, retrain or help a just transition for those whose jobs are at risk of change. We also welcome the influx of apprentices and new workers into the rail industry, and our reps have a clear role in ensuring their training and development meets a standard. This CoP will have events from September and will seek to develop our union's approach and strategy for skills development in our industries.

    LGBT+ Inclusive Workplaces

    Our Inclusive Rail campaign aims to make the railway inclusive of LGBT+ people by 2025. This is an ambitious aim and we will need to work with allies and supporters to achieve it. Our union's work in this area is industry leading and the CoP will be bringing together people leading on LGBT+ inclusion to ensure companies are aspiring to and achieving our TSSA 'Gold Standard'. Events have just been announced for this CoP.

    More to come

    Over the next three weeks you will hear more from CoP Organisers on the events they are leading and about the learning you can do now. You will also soon find some events from our Self Organised Groups to engage with people on the extremely important topics of equality that are affecting our members. More will be posted in our Going Beyond LinkedIn group, and this Going Beyond Blog, so please do join the group and comment on the posts.

    I look forward to hearing your ideas.

    With kindness,

    Nadine Rae

    TSSA Organising Director

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  • Weekend learning

    Author: Nadine RaePosted: 29 May 2020

    10 Reasons to Join and Support Equality Poster As we head into the weekend I thought I would share with you an article on who invented the weekend... Unions of course! read about weekends and other great terms and conditions unions have won for us. And if you are not a member yet - JOIN! Read this article about weekends and other great union achievements in this TUC article from Heart Union week in February 2020:

    Have a good one!

    Nadine Rae

    TSSA Organising Director

    10 reasons illustrated

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  • Members set the direction in their community of practice

    Author: Nadine RaePosted: 26 May 2020

     What is a CoP slide Last week we held our first ever Going Beyond events, Exploring Unconscious Bias and Safe Return to Work. Both were well attended and successful in engaging members on important topics for their community of practice themes. Participating in a CoP means that you are engaging in a theme over a period of time, not only attending an event, so you can learn as much as possible on the theme. The questions arising from participants in our events last week will help shape events and resources for the CoPs moving forward. In that way, participants of the events are setting the direction of exploration in their CoP. Here are a few outcomes from last week:

    Addressing Bullying & Harassment CoP

    We held the first ever TSSA online event, Exploring Unconscious Bias, which received great feedback from our members and participants. The event focussed on how unconscious bias can impact our everyday decisions and impressions of people, therefore is a contributing factor to bullying, harassment and other forms of discrimination, but that we can manage in ourselves if we are conscious of it. Through the discussion some of the following questions were touched on:

    - How does unconscious bias effect organisations, processes, procedures?

    - What actions and initiatives can we promote to address bias in organisations?

    - What data can help us quantify issues of bias and monitor the impact of any actions we take to address it?

     There will be additional events organised for the CoP to discuss these points further.

    Representing Members CoP

    Our Safe Return to Work event focussed on what individuals and workplace reps need to know as transport staff are returning to their workplaces. Some of the learning materials that will be shared with participants and the Representing Members CoP from this event will include:

    - Video interviews with Val Stansfield, Employment Rights Adviser answering key questions on the return to work

    - Guidance for risk assessments

    - Information on Equality Impact Assessments to assess the risk and impact on safety measures and returning to work on people with issues such as disability, age, race, pregnancy, and other protected characteristics.

    If you have not yet joined a community of practice, visit for more information.

    To see what Going Beyond events are coming up, visit:

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