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Executive Committee Report - October 2019

23 January 2020

Apologies were received from Nicola Jukes (North East) who was on annual leave.

Industrial Relations

Thomas Cook, the oldest and one of the best known names in tourism, went into liquidation on 23rd September. The company decided to cease trading carrying £1.7bn in debt and after guarantees for £200m in additional lending (which was an agreement for credit rather than an outright loan) could not be sourced. The government, which chose not to bail out the company, was forced to pay to repatriate 155,000 stranded holiday makers and make redundancy payments to former Thomas Cook employees.

Both Spain and Germany opted to bail out the Spanish and German arms of the Thomas Cook Group.

TSSA’s General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, worked tirelessly during Labour Party Conference to set up a meeting with Andrea Leadsom, the Business Secretary, to discuss the future for redundant Thomas Cook workers, as well as reach out to other transport and travel companies to seek employment opportunities for former Thomas Cook staff.

Thomas Cook members were given free membership of the union and a hardship payment as they were still waiting for unpaid wages. Hays Travel purchased the Thomas Cook stores which were closed, though the future of stores who share a common high street with an existing Hays Travel store does not look positive.

The Executive Committee agree to the purchase of a small number of shares in TUI to assist in lobbying at AGMs for trade union recognition (TUI’s German arm is fully unionised).

Membership and Time to Grow

Membership rose in the most recent period to just over 18,000. Key areas for growth included Net-work Rail and the British Transport Police. The most recent recruitment exercise in September was an unmitigated success.

However, there was a possibility that this increase would be tempered by the collapse of Thomas Cook in September, however steps had been put in place by the union to try to alleviate some of the financial hardships being experienced by our Thomas Cook members.

The Executive Committee agreed in principle to a twenty point plan to further increase the member-ship of the trade union, including tasking all Divisional Councils with recruitment plans, for all branches to have an Organising Secretary appointed and for branches, SOGs and DCs to agree and set recruitment targets.

Campaigns, including on equal pay and our Inclusive Rail campaign, will continue. The expected outcomes of these campaigns will be recruitment, increased activism and a higher profile for the union.

Political, Campaigns and Democracy

The Executive Committee was addressed by Sarah-Jane Clifton of the Jubilee Debt Campaign. The Campaign was founded in 1996 but can trace its roots back to the late 1980s when nations in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa were crippled by huge debts. The Campaign carries out research, education and campaigning on debt (both personal and state) and the link between it and poverty. The charity is modestly sized, with a headcount of five full-time staff.

Some countries are paying up to 40% of their governmental budgets in debt repayments, with a great number of sub-Saharan debt to British banks and enshrined in UK law. The work of the Campaign includes calling for debt write-downs and write-offs and solidarity campaigning for countries including Greece, who was the victim of brutal austerity following their debt crisis.

Sarah-Jane also spoke of the plight of personal debtors, particularly those people who are on low incomes. Poor people tend to have to pay higher interest debt than those who are well off. One key part of their campaigning work was to focus on wages and potential write-off of personal debt.

The General Federation of Trade Unions had contacted the Executive Committee inviting the association to nominate candidates to fill two equalities vacancies on its EC, one for young workers and the other for LGBT+. The Committee agreed to reach out to Future TSSA and LGBT+ to recommend candidates.

Mick Carney (President) and Jason Turvey (Treasurer) volunteered to attend the November Steering Committee of the Freedom for Öcalan campaign, which will take place on 28th November.

Melissa Heywood (Midlands) was nominated to stand for election for the vacancy on the European Transport Federation Women’s Committee.

Al Stoten (London South) gave a report on Trade Union Congress which took place in September.

Sara-Jane McDonough also submitted a detailed report on TSSA’s delegation at Labour Party Conference in Brighton in September, at which all our delegates were speakers.

Marios Alexandrou (London Transport) gave a detailed report on the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy event, Energy Transition and Economy-Wide Decarbonisation, which took place on 9th and 10th July.

Reports were also received from Steve Whitehead on the National Pensioners’ Convention and from the North West Divisional Council.

Morning Star newspaper

The Executive Committee was also addressed by Ben Chacko, who is the editor of the Morning Star newspaper.

The Morning Star is uniquely owned by a co-operative of shareholders and trade unions including TSSA. The paper was founded in 1930 as the Daily Worker and was the newspaper of the Communist Party. It renamed as the Morning Star in 1966 and, under the editorship of the late John Haylett, became a newspaper of the working left.

The Morning Star is the only daily national newspaper to give sympathetic coverage to industrial disputes, including TSSA action in the British Transport Police in Scotland and the plight of Thomas Cook staff after its collapse in September. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, wrote a weekly column for the newspaper for ten years and is a daily reader of the newspaper.

There was also a discussion on the BBC’s continued omission of Britain’s only socialist daily newspaper from its newspaper reviews on its news channel.

Ben also explained the advertising opportunities available for trade unions, including pull-outs and wraps. Ben also acknowledged TSSA’s involvement in politics and the Labour Party.


The Executive Committee endorsed in principle a proposal to recruit four Organiser apprentices over a period of two years. The proposal is that these four recruits would be coached and mentored as

Organisers by their established peers, as well as by Organising Directors. There is some central government funding available for this initiative, the rate of pay for these positions would be agreed following discussions with GMB, who represent our staff.

The EC agreed that they would undergo an ongoing training programme in 2020, with the scheduling of this training to be agreed. Topics for training will include equality, bullying and harassment, mental health and neurodiversity.

Financial and Notable Donations

The Executive Committee approved a detailed proposal to bring our book-keeping services back in house. The automated service which will allow us to bring this function back in house is currently under the last stages of testing, with the transition completing in January 2020.

The Executive Committee also approved the Audit Committee’s decision to appoint Haymacintyre as the union’s auditors for 2020 to 2024.

The payment of staff payroll and pensions would continue to be managed by GFTU.

The Executive Committee agreed to the following donations and affiliation fees:

• £500 to David Drew MP to assist in funding an Organiser for the next three months (drawn from the Political Fighting Fund)

• £500 to Ed Miliband MP for forthcoming general election campaign (drawn from the Political Fighting Fund)

• £100 to Banana Link

• £50 to TUC North West for an event to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Paul Robeson’s appear-ance in Liverpool

• £50 for Trade Union Friends of Palestine

• £25 to South West Lancashire TUC

• £25 to Nor4Nor, a pro nationalisation of the railways group based in Norfolk

• £25 to York Disabled Workers’ Cooperative

TSSA’s Women in Focus group was granted funding of £3,000 for an event to coincide with International Women’s Day on 7th March 2020. This funding would not be drawn from the donations budget.

Other business

Malcolm Wallace submitted a full report on his attendance at planning meetings for the Railway Workers’ Centenary Service held on 20th August, 18th September and 10th October.

The next meeting of the Executive Committee will be in January 2020


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