TSSA marks International Women's Day 2023

Group of women on picket picket line wearing orange high vis

This International Women’s Day (IWD) TSSA’s senior elected women shout out to all TSSA women members, saying “this is your union”. 

Executive Committee (EC) women members are taking the opportunity of IWD to reflect that it’s been a challenging year for TSSA, and in particular for women across the union. The publication of the Kennedy Report exposed wrongdoings, sexual harassment and bullying. The EC accepted the report and its findings in full and has been working through implementing the recommendations, with a strong focus on sweeping culture change. 

Women members on the EC have been strong voices in the aftermath of the report, championing women’s experiences and driving through change. 

Commenting, they said: “It was devastating to learn of the abuse and the far-reaching extent of it within our union. The victims are at the forefront of our minds. While it was very difficult reading, we are so grateful for the bravery of people coming forward. 

“Whilst we reflect on the challenges we need to overcome, we can also take comfort from the fact that there are many excellent activists, reps and staff among our union who are committed to delivering equity and change for women. We’ve been reminded by both Helena Kennedy KC and Professor Hazel Conley (report authors) of the many people and activities TSSA should be proud of, and we hold that dear. 

“This year’s IWD theme of embracing equity puts the focus on deeper understanding of diversity and inclusion, in workplaces and across society. As TSSA EC members, we are absolutely committed to achieving equity across our union, and the report recommendations are a blueprint for the start of our work, coupled with the vital campaigning and industrial work done by our reps and staff every day. 

“We want to reassure women that this is your union, and you have an important place and part to play in TSSA. We encourage women to become active and stand for roles at all levels – reps, Company Councils, conference delegates, Self-Organised Groups, EC, branches, training, and events. Together we will achieve the positive change needed to achieve equity.” 

Spotlight on: Period Dignity 

EC member Gemma Southgate has championed the ‘period dignity’ campaign within her organisation, Transport for Wales (TfW), with her employer now agreeing to sign up to the initiative. The campaign calls for free sanitary products to be made available in workplaces and tackle the stigma associated with menstruation.

Gemma made a solid moral and business case, including evidence around employee safety, inclusivity and wellness, which her employer simply couldn’t ignore. “I’m delighted that TfW have responded positively to the campaign”, said Gemma, adding that she was keeping the pressure on for full implementation across TfW workplaces, especially depots. 

Spotlight on our reps:

Lynsey Ward, TSSA LNER Local rep & H&S rep said: “ I’m proud to be a part of TSSA. there are many strong, inspiring women in our union, one of which mentored me for many years and still helps me to this day.”

More about Period Dignity

The case for free workplace sanitary provision:  

Employee dignity – Offering free menstrual products in workplace toilets removes the stress and disruption caused when someone does not have these essential products easily available. It also eliminates the need to attempt to discreetly carry them around and the fear of being caught without. 

Employee safety – Poor menstrual hygiene management can lead to serious health impacts such as Toxic Shock Syndrome. Tampons and menstrual cups must be changed regularly to avoid TSS. Impact of using toilet paper to manage periods includes severe discomfort, ineffective absorption and leaking which can lead to anxiety and stress. 

Showcases our values and our brand – Providing menstrual products in our workplace positions Transport for Wales as a progressive work environment, demonstrating commitment to women, inclusivity, wellness and environment, sending a strong message to our female employees, clients, visitors and prospective employees. 

Contributes to our sustainability initiatives – By selecting a green product provision, we can positively contribute to reducing single use plastics, supporting our overall environmental commitments. 

TSSA reps holding a TSSA logo flag

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