EC Summary - 28th March 2023

TSSA's Executive Committee holding a huge banner reading E-Mix Reloaded: United against Racism

Introduction from the new Interim (Joint) General Secretary, Peter Pendle

This was the first EC meeting to be attended by Peter Pendle. He told the committee that he had been meeting people, including the staff reps, and trying to find out who else he needed to talk to. In particular, he wanted people to think about the longer-term strategic direction of TSSA. He had met Baroness Kennedy and asked her guidance on priorities. These include a review of TSSA’s rules, widening the field for General Secretary elections, governance and change management programme.

Peter has prior experience of union mergers and his advice was to not rush and to make sure we have the right partner. In the meantime, a forensic audit of the union’s financial affairs is underway, though in general the accounts and membership figures indicate that TSSA continues to be a going concern. Nonetheless, we cannot be complacent about the future, hence the need to develop a strategic plan. TSSA is operating with a reduced staff complement, so there will need to be a short-term restructuring and prioritisation of work in order to ensure that members get the service they expect.

Peter said that he was considering our approach to recruitment week in the post-COVID world and working with the staff in relation to this.

He closed his introduction by stating that he would be meeting with the certification officer in the week following the EC meeting.

Presentations to the Executive Committee

Investing in Ethnicity (Sarah Garrett, Louise Wiley)

This was an opportunity for Investing in Ethnicity to reintroduce themselves to the committee, as most members were unaware that the group had a relationship with the union. They began working with us in 2021 and established a maturity matrix and provided a report on the ethnicity pay gap. Membership is £2,900 per year and allows access to toolkits, networks, and online training.

The EC voted to continue the relationship.

The TSSA staff representatives

The staff reps expressed concern that there had been a lack of health and wellbeing focus in discussions since the Kennedy report was published, and that staff had not had a sufficient voice in relation to changes. They added that recruitment needs to be considered more strategically.

In response, the President said that he and the new IGS had been speaking with the staff and their reps, and that in future he would like the reps to speak at EC meetings on a regular basis.

The Red Poppy Company

A representative from the company provided an introduction to the services they provide, especially their Introduction to Trauma course which is available online. There was a discussion about the provision of drop-in sessions, which also would be made available online so that as many staff as possible could benefit. There was also a discussion about Red Poppy sending someone to each TSSA venue for a day and about the provision of trauma counselling on an individual basis.


Membership-has levelled off in recent periods. Latest figures show an increase of 20 new members on the previous period. It was noted that we need to check certain aspects of membership; notably, we still have some Thomas Cook people listed as members, and there are some people who joined on the Apprentice rate who need to be chased up to increase their subscription.


We are still in the process of reviewing accounts. We haven’t yet needed to draw down the £0.5m agreed previously.

Following up on a question from the previous meeting, the EC learned that the Special Reserve Fund of £4m represents a gain of shares over time.

It was agreed there should be a meeting with Karlsons, who lease the print room equipment (although in fact it is leased by Siemens on behalf of Karlsons).

Status of discussions with the GMB

The EC approved a pause to all current merger discussions while we conduct a forensic examination of our own finances and develop a strategic plan. In this context, the planned Special Delegates Conference becomes superfluous, so it was agreed to send a circular to all branches informing them that the SDC would not now go ahead.

The certification officer will be informed of the current situation.

TSSA Benefits

The Executive Committee considered a report into members’ access to the benefits website and their use of TSSA benefits. Although this has been growing since the launch of the scheme the overall usage is not especially high. Possibly this is because many employers in the rail industry also run such schemes. Is it worth TSSA continuing to run a benefits scheme?

Conference speakers

Paul Corcoran agreed to put feelers out.

Discrimination and harassment advisers

The role of discrimination and harassment advisers is to be a point of contact – particularly at annual conference – to whom people can speak in confidence. Currently there are two advisers from the paid staff (Will Boisseau and Rob Jenks – although these positions will be offered to female staff if any wish to volunteer) and two advisers from the Executive Committee (Nicola Jukes and Paul Corcoran). One additional adviser is needed and the EC agreed to appoint Melissa Heywood.

Young members delegates

Young members (under 35) are under-represented within TSSA. In order to encourage greater participation from this age group, the EC agreed to invite a delegation of five young members to visit this year’s annual conference in Cork. They will have their own unique programme of events allowing them to see every aspect of how conference runs and develop skills such as writing a motion, delivering a conference speech, learning how the democratic structures of the union work, organising a fringe event, and producing content with the support of the Communications Team. This schedule of events will be facilitated by the Future TSSA Chair and Secretary.

EC support for motions

Given time constraints, the EC decided to consider conference policy recommendations at its next meeting.

Replacement delegates

The EC agreed to formalise the process for arranging replacement delegates, when needed, to the Labour and TUC conferences, and other such conferences.

Correspondence from Southeastern Metro

The EC confirmed that retired members can attend TUC conference.

Update on Self-Organised Groups (SOGs)

A 2020 report on SOGs had concluded:

  • All need a constitution in line with TSSA Guidelines and Rule Book
  • All need to modernise, possibly change name and update their profile on websites

And that all SOGS need to do some or all of the following-

  • Seek and support new members
  • Highlight Campaign issue
  • Reflect issues in News on the Go
  • Promote aims and objectives of TSSA

As not all SOGs are yet compliant with these guidelines, the EC agreed that they should be given a strict 6-month deadline to do so, otherwise support will be withdrawn and non-compliant groups will revert to the status of self-interest groups. Melissa Heywood will track compliance and Gemma Southgate will assist with communications if necessary.


Given the increasing popularity of online calendars and the cost of printing diaries, in future members will be asked to “opt-in” to receiving a diary.

TUC Women’s Conference

The EC acknowledged the report on the TUC Women’s Conference received from Cheryl O’Brien, to whom thanks will be sent.

National Bus and Rail Union (Ireland)

Correspondence from the National Bus and Rail Union referred to a previous approach proposing to merge TSSA’s Irish Branch into their union, and suggested that discussions on this topic might now take place. However, as per the recent statement made when deciding to pause discussions with the GMB, the current position of TSSA is that no merger discussions will take place while we further consider our future strategy.

TOC Pensions

A report on pensions was noted.

Requests for support for political candidates

  • The EC agreed a payment of £150 to Maidenhead CLP to support the candidature of Marios Alexandrou in the coming council elections. NOTE: Due to the obvious conflict of interest, Marios stood down as Chair of the meeting while this item was considered.
  • Similar requests had been received from several branches but the EC felt unable to commit in the absence of additional information. It is important that reasons are provided as to why TSSA should support the candidates proposed. Specifically, it is expected that the views of candidates align with those of TSSA on key issues.

Open letter in support of refugees

The EC endorsed the General Secretary’s signature on an open letter in support of refugees.

Labour Party - Endorse nominations by the TSSA selection committee

The Executive Committee endorsed the following nominations:

Blackpool South - Chris Webb

Newcastle under Lyme - Andrew Hammond

Harrow East - Primesh Patel

Clwyd East - Megan Hughes

Robert Tressell Festival

A £250 donation was agreed

Dublin Branch

Under ‘Any other business’ it was noted that the election for the Irish seat would need to be rerun due to lack of candidates by the original closing date.

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