This report is an update on the work of the EC since the commencement of lockdown to date. TSSAs head office has been closed since lockdown to protect our staff and the Executive has been meeting via video conferencing.
COVID-19 and the transport industry
The Executive Committee was appraised of the evolving situation of Covid-19 by the General Secretary. The national railway network has been taken into de facto public ownership due to the collapse in footfall brought about by lockdown, but also by working from home becoming the norm for millions of workers across the country. The future of the railway industry remains unclear, however what is obvious is that, with passenger numbers at their current levels and the seismic shift in the working patterns of millions of people, the current model of railway ownership and operation is no longer sustainable without government intervention.
In London, the situation is equally serious. TfL operates entirely on income from fares and without government subsidy, however a government grant of £500m, along with a loan of £1.1bn, meant that daily operations could continue, at least in the short term. Despite placing over 7,000 of its staff on furlough, it is clear that further government assistance will be needed if TfL is to continue operating in the medium to long term.
The Executive Committee agreed to modify the model Standing Orders for branches to allow branches to make use of video conferencing to conduct branch business if they wished to do so. Branches, SOGs and Divisional Councils would be able to purchase video conferencing access from their funds to facilitate ‘remote’ meetings.
The timetable for the election of the President and Treasurer, as well as Committee members for the North East, Midlands, Wales & Western and Anglia & London North East were agreed.
Dates for EC meetings in 2021 were also agreed, though in these constantly evolving times the venues for these meetings would be kept under review. The meetings would take place on:
• 19th and 20th January
• 2nd and 3rd March
• 27th and 28th April
• 18th and 19th May
• 13th and 14th July
• 24th and 25th August
• 12th and 13th October
• 7th and 8th December
Motions on the agenda for the cancelled Annual Conference have been remitted to the EC for consideration at its October and December meetings.
The union’s finances, much like those of the nation in general, have been seriously affected by Covid-19. Our investments portfolio suffered a dramatic and serious contraction in April, but has since recovered in the following months. However, it is still down considerably on its pre-Covid level. Additionally, the shift in working patterns towards working from home has meant that our rental income has taken a significant hit. The Committee will keep the situation under constant review. As a precautionary measure, our General Secretary has instituted a recruitment freeze for all staff vacancies.
The Executive Committee was given a report on the work to select a company to supply a new website for the union. There were six interested parties, which were shortlisted to two. The Committee will be updated again at the next meeting of the winner of the contract. The new website is planned to be online in the first quarter of 2021.
Unfortunately the publication of the audited accounts has been significantly delayed owing to a number of factors, all of which are Covid-19 related.
The Executive Committee considered reports from the Treasurer on the meetings of the People’s Press Printing Society Management Committee, who manage the Morning Star newspaper. The financial situation at the newspaper was precarious at the beginning of the lockdown, however the situation has improved since and the financial outlook is still concerning but not as bleak as it appeared five months ago. An investigation into the publication of a cartoon in February, which caused offence to some within the labour movement, was completed and a number of recommendations had been made to prevent this from happening again.
Lara McNeill was endorsed by the Executive Committee for Labour NEC youth representative. The EC also agreed to endorse Michael Antoniw for Labour NEC Wales seat, Ellen Morrison for the Labour NEC Disabled member’s seat and Sian James and Diane Green for the Welsh National Assembly elections.
The Executive Committee agreed to support an initiative devised by Gordon Brown, Alliance for Full Employment. You can see more details on this initiative by visiting https://affe.co.uk.