It is now a year since the publication of the Kennedy Report following the inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment and bullying within TSSA.
This was led by Baroness Helena Kennedy KC. Since then, TSSA, under the guidance of the union’s Executive Committee (EC) has been working to implement each of the recommendations made by Baroness Kennedy and by Professor Hazel Conley in her report into Equality Policy and Practice at TSSA.
Though significant progress has been made – with the union now led by a female General Secretary, President and Treasurer – this work will continue in the coming months and remains a priority.
It should be stressed that making sweeping organisational and durable cultural change will be a process lasting well beyond this anniversary and will require not only further action but constant vigilance across the union.
Commenting, TSSA General Secretary, Maryam Eslamdoust, and President, Melissa Heywood, released the following joint statement:
“A year on from the publication of the Kennedy Report we restate our ongoing commitment to bring comprehensive change to the organisation and make good on all the recommendations.
“We are determined to build on the significant progress already achieved while recognising there is more to do in the short, medium and long term. As leaders of our union we remain wholly committed to that task, a sentiment shared across the Executive Committee, staff body and the membership.
“In the past twelve months we have moved forward in a number of ways, large and small, but all significant in their own right.
“Notably a new leadership team is now in place with TSSA led by three women – in the roles of General Secretary, President and Treasurer. Baroness Kennedy called for a new ‘internal leadership’ and the Association has made good on that key pledge.
“The past twelve months have been hugely challenging, with considerable reform to the organisation while at the same time fighting successfully for members on major issues such as the proposed closure of railway ticket offices and the national rail dispute.
“Our focus in the coming months remains the twin track approach of winning for members while continuing to transform our union so that it is again at the heart of progressive change across the industries we represent.
“Under the guidance of our EC and staff leadership, TSSA will continue to act on all recommendations made and remains committed to achieving the necessary change which secures the confidence of members, staff and especially women across our movement and industries.
“We make these commitments as proud feminists and will use our past record of standing up for all women to advance equalities at TSSA.”
Over the past year, following the Kennedy and Conley Reports - TSSA has -
*Accepted the recommendations of both Kennedy and Conley.
*Put in place a crisis administration (as per Kennedy).
*Took immediate and effective steps to remove the former ‘internal leadership’ from the day to day running of the union.
*Sought and received support from the TUC, including on equality matters.
*Trauma support provision for staff secured and rolled out. Free helpline provided by the Survivors Trust.
*Appointed an Interim General Secretary and Interim Executive Committee leadership (President and Treasurer)
*Draft strategic plan for TSSA’s future agreed (and due before annual conference in May)
*Elected a new full-time female General Secretary – Maryam Eslamdoust (the first woman of colour ever elected as a trade union general secretary in the UK).
*Elected an Executive Committee led by a female President (Melissa Heywood) and Treasurer (Mary Sithole).
*TSSA’s current interim senior management team is 75 per cent women.
*EC members have been given support by Unions 21 in governance training.
*Instituted a Change Management Oversight Group – made up of Senior Management, staff reps and EC members, meeting every fortnight.
*Held preventing sexual harassment training for all staff and the elected lay members of the Executive Committee. Training was delivered by experienced trainers provided by the Trades Union Congress.
* Alcohol is now banned from TSSA offices and discouraged at all formal or informal events.
*Successfully held an annual conference which changed the Rule Book for electing a General Secretary in line with the recommendations of the Kennedy Report.
*Conference also considered the Kennedy and Conley findings.
* Trained Dignity Advisors appointed for the TSSA Annual Delegate Conference.
*An EC liaison officer has been appointed to each Self Organised Group (SOG).
*Agreement and date secured for all-day workshop on culture change, to be attended by Change Management members, Senior Team, and EC.
*NB – this is not an exhaustive list of action points taken to date*