TSSA writes to new Transport Minister for ‘Urgent’ talks ahead of Industrial Action

Wide view of Houses of Parliament London

TSSA’s Interim General Secretary Frank Ward has today written to the new Secretary of State for Transport urging him to “remove the blockage” stopping a negotiated settlement being reached, saying the Secretary has an opportunity to “avoid the mistakes of Grant Shapps”. 

Mark Harper was appointed to the Transport post this week in a cabinet reshuffle by the latest British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. Mr Harper becomes the third Conservative MP to take the position this year, ahead of further industrial action set to take place from 4th to 9th November.

In his letter Frank Ward noted the need for “ all parties to be proactive and committed” to finding a settlement to the ongoing dispute over pay, conditions, and jobs, which saw Britain’s railways brought to a standstill this summer. Mr Ward highlighted that a settlement could not be reached without Train Operating Companies receiving a negotiating mandate from Mr Harpers department and has requested an urgent meeting on the matter.

TSSA Interim General Secretary Frank Ward, said: “Our members do not take industrial action lightly. This dispute could be resolved speedily if Mark Harper can avoid the mistakes of Grant Shapps and use his powers to mandate a fair pay rise, reasonable terms and conditions and no compulsory redundancies.

“The Tories have played politics with Britain’s railways, preventing DfT companies from negotiating with the unions and the result has been a deeply unhappy workforce and misery for commuters. It’s high time the Train Operators got round the table with us and negotiated a fair solution.


Note to Editors

Letter in full:

26 October 2022

Dear Mark Harper, 

I am writing to you on your appointment as the new Transport Secretary of State. Can I first offer my congratulations on your appointment and wish you the best of luck at such a difficult time for the country and our economy. 

Earlier this month TSSA met with your predecessor Anne-Marie Trevelyan. In this discussion we impressed upon her that Train Operating Companies [TOCs] are awaiting a negotiating mandate from the Department for Transport before full talks can resume to reach a negotiated settlement to our ongoing industrial dispute. She did not deny this was the case. 

While our talks seemed positive, our officials and reps have subsequently met with one TOC, where it was confirmed that the TOCs still hold no mandate. The meeting lasted no longer than fifteen minutes ending without any progress having been made. 

I would like to impress upon you the need for all parties to be proactive and committed to finding a settlement to this long running dispute. 

We are currently in negotiations with Network Rail and have further scheduled talks with the company this week. I can assure you that we stand ready and willing to do the same with train operators. 

We remain eager to achieve a negotiated settlement which addresses the concerns of our members working in our rail industry and expect talks to include meaningful consultation on any proposed changes – something we have been expecting for months now but currently not forthcoming. Anything you could do to remove the blockage to this would be much appreciated. 

I would also like to request a meeting with you on this issue as a matter of urgency.

Frank Ward 

Interim General Secretary 

Transport Salaried Staffs' Association

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