Page 1

November 2012

On the march to save our future


n West Coast franchising scandal n TSSA win at Labour conference

n 'Year of Horror' campaign news

in this issue

Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association General Secretary: Manuel Cortes

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4–7 News & campaigns u Franchising scandal

u New assistant general secretaries u Transport Museum campaign

8–9 October 20 march

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11 General Secretary: towards a merger

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16–17 Education and Learning events

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12–15 TUC and Labour Pary conference 18–20 Year of Horror update 21 Woody Guthrie remembered 22 British Transport Police 23 What is neurodiversity? 24-27 Comment u West Coast omnishambles u Community Rail

TSSA Journal is printed by TU Ink on Leipa Ultra Silk comprised of 100% post-consumer waste. The polythene wrapper is oxo-degradable.

28-29 Finance and awards

Vol 108/issue 1225

30–32 Help, advice and letters


November 2012

Penguin protesters outside LibDem conference, looking for a ‘freeze’ in rail fares



Members take up the ‘horror cuts’ theme on the October 20 march

In the few weeks since the last Journal we’ve seen the appointment of the 13th Secretary of State for Transport of the last decade, the largest turnout of TSSA members on a demonstration in many years (see pages 8–9), significant debates at the TUC and Labour Party conferences (pages 12-15) and perhaps most importantly of all, the complete collapse of the franchise bidding system. Whilst the immediate result will be almost ‘business as usual’ on the West Coast line, the longer term impacts may vary wildly, from the definitely bad to the potentially brilliant. Starting with the bad, is the fact that given the Government is reluctant to hand lines to the publicly-owned Directly Operated Railways, existing franchise holders are likely to be able to extract whatever terms they like from the Department for Transport for the stop-gap extensions. More positively, one would hope that a new franchising system would discourage the ‘promise big, then run away’ behaviour of some TOCs who hand back their franchises as their premium payments back to government start to increase. The very public rubbishing of the dog’s dinner of franchising can only help make the case for the complete transformation of the system – and it is here that the most potentially exciting possibilities exist. Virgin are being given an extension of between 9 and 13 months. A short-term franchise – unlikely to be less than 18 months would then be open to any bidder. Using the lower numbers, 9+18=27, and in December we’ll be 29 months from the general election and still fewer from the point when governments can become reticent about long-term and potentially unpopular decisions. As Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary says (p13), we need to be lobbying those yet unconvinced or not yet brave enough to accept the case for public ownership. Just maybe we can turn an interesting bit of maths into something that can transform the rail industry for decades to come. Ben Soffa, editor

TSSA Journal



West Coast fiasco suspends all franchise contests THE VERY PUBLIC collapse of the West Coast franchising process has thrown a spotlight on the waste, complexity and huge amount of guesswork involved in the granting of the multi-billion pound contracts. News of the errors in the Department for Transport’s processes broke in the early hours of 3 October, the day before Virgin’s judicial review was due to be heard. The new Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin released a statement saying that ‘significant technical flaws in the way the franchise process was conducted’ had been discovered. These are said to centre on the value of the surety bond that franchise holders must give to the DfT, which would be retained in the event of their collapse. Virgin had claimed this should have been set at £600 million rather than the £190 million the DfT accepted. Further errors were said to include the baseline

assumption on growth and inflation figures used by the DfT to evaluate each of the bids. Due to the 13 year length of the franchise, small changes in the first years can result in very different outcomes towards the end of the contract. There has also been speculation that cost-cutting resulted in the DfT failing to use external auditors, who would normally be used to verify the assumptions in major contracts. The West Coast decision also derailed the string of franchise verdicts due in the coming months, with Great Western, Thameslink and Essex Thameside (c2c) routes now needing either extensions to their current franchises or taking over by the publicly-owned Directly Operated Railways. Bids for Essex Thameside (currently c2c) had been submitted just a week before the process was scrapped, whilst

the much larger Great Western proposals were due to be submitted within weeks and would have been in the final stages of preparation. The bid preparation costs of the four West Coast applicants will be refunded at a cost of £40-50 million to taxpayers, whilst the further charges for the other processes, First’s loss of earnings and the extension of current franchises may take the bill to £100 million.7

TSSA appoint first-ever rail union female assistant general secretary The staffing structure of the Association is currently undergoing reorganisation to be better able to support members. The process will create a single management team that will oversee both industrial and strategic issues. Previous heads of department roles have been abolished and replaced with four equal assistant general secretary positions, including Lorraine Ward, who becomes the first woman to hold such a senior position within the employed staff of any of the rail unions. As AGS1 Lorraine has responsibility for Scotland, Ireland and the Helpdesk, AGS2 Steve Coe handles the North of England, the Midlands, Wales and the South West, AGS3 John Page looks after London, the South East, Network Rail and Community Organising, whilst AGS4 Frank Ward oversees policy, legal, finance and membership functions. Further changes are being consulted upon for the lower tiers of the Association’s staff structure, but with certain posts being closed, the existing changes are expected to save TSSA something in the region of £100,000 a year. General secretary Manuel Cortes told the Journal, ‘These changes will speed up the process of moving TSSA closer towards becoming the organising union we need to be, with members at the heart of every decision. A key part of the AGS’ jobs will be to build links in their areas, both internally with members as well as reaching out to wider union, political and community circles.’7


November 2012


TSSA meet Welsh Government Transport Minister TSSA’S GENERAL SECRETARY Manuel Cortes and a delegation of Welsh members recently met with Carl Sergeant AM, the Welsh Government’s Minister for Transport. The Minister, who spoke at TSSA’s annual conference in the spring, discussed a whole range of transport issues with TSSA, first on the list being the upcoming decision on passenger services in Wales after the Arriva Trains franchise expires in 2018. Welsh Labour’s 2011 manifesto committed to examine the prospects of running the franchise on a not-fordividend basis – via a co-operative, social enterprise or other model – via the current franchising framework. A widespread review of the next franchise and the future of Welsh rail in general is expected to be conducted in the coming months. Members discussed the impending electrification of the South Wales main line and the Valley Lines network and whether any new line re-extensions or reopenings would be put in place as part of the plans. The Welsh Government has in recent years re-opened several lines from

Minister for Transport Carl Sergeant AM, Howard Morris, Cheryl O’Brien, Clive Raison, Manuel Cortes and Malcolm Phillips.

which passenger services disappeared under the Beeching Axe, but some, such as Ebbw Vale terminate short of the town centre. The Minister agreed that such extensions were their aim, but the reduction in funding provided by Westminster now made such projects very difficult. The Minister said that with

electrification came a range of new possibilities, including exciting ideas around metro-style light rail vehicles serving the Cardiff area. In a sign of the different approach taken by the Labour administration in Cardiff Bay, it was the minister who proposed holding regular meetings with the Association, something members were keen to take up.7

Cameron backtracks on fares – but still up 4.2 per cent

East Coast returns millions to system, not shareholders

JANUARY’S INCREASE IN regulated fares will be 4.2 per cent rather than the 6.2 per cent announced earlier in the year. Whilst certainly an improvement, the above inflation increase still means fares will continue to accelerate away from stagnant wages, causing a further decrease in living standards for millions of commuters. Despite being personally announced by the Prime Minister, the change is supposedly due to the identification of saving in the Department for Transport’s budget. The impending by-election in the commuter town of Corby and the increasing voter anger at fare rises is apparently coincidental. The Department for Transport is still planning a fare rise of RPI+1 per cent in subsequent years, meaning the most expensive prices in Europe are set to get ever more so.7

WHILST ONLY MEANT to be acting as a stopgap before reprivatisation, the East Coast route is diverting millions of pounds which would otherwise be going to shareholders back into the railways. In the second full year of running the route, Directly Operated Railways made a £7m profit, with a further £189m returned to the DfT via premium payments. East Coast claim an improvement in staff morale over the period, with sick days falling from an average of over 14 to under nine. The profitable running of the franchise – something of a turnaround story from the days of National Express – provides clear evidence that private profit is not the only way to drive up performance on the railway. 7

TSSA Journal



London Transport Museum campaign gathers speed TSSA RECENTLY CALLED a demonstration outside the London Transport Museum’s Covent Garden entrance to protest at management threats to cut staff, slash the salaries of the lowest paid workers and increase entrance fees. Members at the museum were joined by the PCS union, journalists, members of the public and Lost Arts – the trade union alliance against cuts to cultural funding. Earlier in the day TSSA members, Lost Arts and the Campaign for Better Transport had lobbied a meeting of the Museum’s trustees, asking them to preserve its future as an affordable, accessible resource celebrating London’s rich transport history. The future of the museum is under threat due to the loss of £1 million from the Arts Council and TfL’s decision to cut their funding to the museum by 25 per cent. In response, TSSA has launched a campaign to Save London

Transport Museum, which has so far received much public support. The next stage of the campaign is to call on TSSA members and our supporters to lobby their MPs in support of the museum. You can do this very quickly using the

model letter and email tool on the TSSA website at You can also show your support and find out more at the campaign Facebook page: savelondontransportmuseum.7

Bristol Metro funding celebration

CC-BY Greater Bristol Metro

TSSA IN SOUTH Wales and Western Region held a reception for local political leaders and the candidates for Mayor of Bristol in early October. The evening was to celebrate the award of funding to the Bristol Metro project. The scheme will see several lines and stations re-opening between 2016 and 2018, with an initial half-hourly service. The improvements come via the

Local and regional leaders backing the scheme earlier in the year


November 2012

government allowing any growth in business rates in special ‘Enterprise Areas’ to be retained locally. The evening was held alongside the local ASLEF branch in Bristol and attracted a cross-party turnout. All of the major candidates for this November’s inaugural election for Mayor of Bristol attended, as did Labour’s foreign affairs shadow minister Kerry McCarthy and local Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie. The evening went well with TSSA members and reps talking to politicians about what is needed to create a better railway. The message was well received, with promises by all mayoral candidates that they will strive to create a better system locally. ASLEF’s National Organiser Simon Weller called for greater investment in the rail and the protection of jobs, whilst former TSSA General Secretary Lord Richard Rosser spoke about the need for greater political will to drive forward serious improvements in public transport. 7 In the run-up to the Bristol mayoral elections, Together for Transport are running a local campaign asking candidates to sign up to ‘The Bristol Pledge’, which includes seven proposals for improving local public transport. To join the campaign, see


Black History Month celebrated ON 10 OCTOBER TSSA celebrated Black History Month by hosting an event staged by the London [trade union] Organisers Network. TSSA members were joined by black and ethnic minority trade unionists from across London to hear the TUC’s race equality officer Wilf Sullivan and Rukayah Sarumi, London young Labour’s ethnic minorities officer, discuss both the historical and current struggles of black workers. Wilf had some difficulty explaining to an audience that was predominantly in their 20s the infamous Grunwick dispute of the 1970s. He had to pause to explain that in those days, cameras had ‘film’ which had to be unloaded from the camera and then sent off to be developed. Rukayah focused the struggles of today, in particular the disadvantage faced by young

ethnic minority workers seeking jobs in the current jobs market. However the highlight of the evening was the artist: ‘G’ whose portraiture of black

heroes adorned the TSSA boardroom. The TSSA fully recognises the additional challenges faced by our ethnic minority members (and their families) in the current

economic environment, and will continue to work with the London Organisers Network to promote trade unionism within ethnic minority communities. 7

Fees for justice are on the way THERE ARE SOON to be important changes to Employment Tribunals that will have serious implications for TSSA and its members. As previously reported in the Journal, from an as yet unidentified point in 2013, the government will impose substantial fees of up to £1,200 to take a case to an Employment Tribunal. TSSA has repeatedly opposed this measure during government consultation processes as have other trades unions and independent employment law experts. Regardless of this, the fees will be introduced at some stage next year. There are two classes of fee to be introduced – an initial fee will be due when a claim is submitted, and a further fee some weeks before the case is due to be heard. It is TSSA’s intention to pay these fees for our members when there is a case brought to us and it appears to be more likely to be won than lost. Should the claim be won, the

tribunal may include reimbursement of the fees into the calculation of the compensation. TSSA will expect members we have supported in this way to pay those fees back to us so that we are able to continue to support other members in the same way. TSSA remains, as it always has been, committed to making sure members who are treated poorly at work are able to seek legal redress in the employment tribunal whenever their claim has a reasonable prospect of succeeding. Nothing this government does will undermine that commitment. Of course, for employees who are not in a union, the impact of the government’s determination to restrict the rights of access the employment tribunals will have a massive effect. Therefore, if your work colleagues have not yet joined TSSA, now would be a good time to let them know what the future holds for them if they are unfairly treated – and get them to join immediately.7

TSSA Journal



Marching for a Future That Works Hundreds of TSSA members joined the vast TUC-called demonstration on 20 October. The mass opposition to the Tory-led government’s damaging and un-just austerity programme included people from all walks of life, united in one simple message: ‘Austerity Isn’t Working’. Yet more TSSA members joined the simultaneous protests in Glasgow and Belfast. With around 400 members involved on this day, this was the biggest turnout of TSSA members on a demonstration in many years. Branches and members from across England and Wales were present in


November 2012

London, with many joining in with our pre-Halloween theme of ‘Fight the Horror Cuts’ by dressing in a ghoulish fashion. As the scary music played from our sound system plenty of other marchers and passers-by wanted to take photos of our demonic ghost train. ‘Stop the horror of high fares’ and ‘Ghost stations coming to a platform near you’ were warnings that struck a chord with many. The wider TSSA family was also there in force, with members’ partners, children, parents and pets all joining in. Over 150,000 people joined the London demonstration. TUC general secretary

demonstration TSSA’s ghost train – sponsored by the socially minded cosmetics company Lush - proved really popular

‘The cuts are affecting everyone – benefit cuts, job cuts. If we don’t protest now, we’ll become the next lost generation.’ Asif Quareshi Lancs & Cumbria General

The ghost train arrives outside Downing Street – with General Secretary Manuel Cortes and former TSSA organiser and now Labour MP for Bolton West Julie Hilling.

Brendan Barber said the massive turnout showed how unpopular the coalition's policies were: ‘We are sending a very strong message that austerity is simply failing. The Government is making life desperately hard for millions of people because of pay cuts for workers, while the rich are given tax cuts.’ Whilst this particular demonstration may be over, the campaign needs to grow and grow. Plans are being developed for more actions in the new year, whilst many towns and cities have active anti-cuts coalitions organising regular local events. 7 The march ended with a rally in Hyde Park

TSSA members also joined the demonstrations in Belfast and Glasgow on the same day

‘This government has got to get the message that these cuts are so drastic that we’re not going to put up with them.’ Malcolm and Jill Phillips South East Wales branch

‘I’m here to protest again the fact that instead of penalising the bankers and those who caused this catastrophe, the government are going after the poorest sections of society who did nothing wrong – including the sick and disabled who are being hit instead of the tax evaders and the corrupt bankers.’ Ian McDonald South Eastern (Kent) branch

See more photos and video from the march: www.tssa.

TSSA Journal


Health & Safety

Hazards conference equips our reps SEVERAL TSSA HEALTH and Safety Reps attended this year’s Hazards Conference at Keele University, Britain’s biggest annual gathering for union safety specialists. As usual, Hazards 2012 was very much a campaigning as well as educational event. There was a particular focus on the Tory-led government’s attacks on health and safety – both in terms of legislation and funding. Cuts to the vital inspections by enforcement authorities were roundly condemned, as were the Government’s characterisation of health and safety legislation as ‘red tape’ to be got rid of. Numerous workshops

covered a huge array of issues, from dealing with risk assessments to communicating safety issues. A moving speech was given by a representative of Families Against Corporate Killing (FACK) about the human cost to relatives of avoidable fatal accidents, and the failure of the state to obtain justice and hold employers to account. An international dimension was provided by a speaker on the 1984 Bhopal disaster in India, from which hundreds of thousands are still suffering. TSSA health and safety rep Steve Andrews commented, ‘the agenda was really well thought out. All the sessions I

attended had good content and there was always room for discussion. All in all, a great event’. Manjit Gill said, ‘There was everything you need to know about health and safety: musculoskeletal disorders, bullying, sickness absence, asbestos, stress and more. The Bhopal session highlighted the greed and exploitation by huge corporations, which left thousands dead and many still suffering even to this day. It was amazing to speak to reps from nursing, education and many other sectors to hear and share their concerns. Together we can make a huge difference by learning and sharing good practice. The key message is: Organise, Educate and Make Work Safe!’7


The next Hazards Conference will be on 19-21 July 2013, and TSSA health and safety reps are encouraged to apply for a place.

Railway Employees Privilege Ticket Association 2012 REPTA membership is available now for all transport industry staff and families, active and retired. Many free, discounted and special rates are available to members as described in our information packed Yearbook. £4.50 per year including p&p. Additional cards for family members £3. New for 2012: Family membership – two adults and all children up to age 18 for £9 including P&P. Send cheques/postal orders payable to ‘REPTA’ to: Colin Rolle, 4 Brackmills Close, Forest Town, Mansfield, NG19 0PB or join on line. See: New: Discount cinema tickets. You can also book rail travel with Raileasy via


November 2012

Rail Regulator promotes TOC/Union joint working ON 10 OCTOBER, TSSA Health and Safety Representatives from all the TOCs were invited by the Office of Rail Regulation to attend an event themed around risk prevention on the railways and worker participation, writes Health and Safety Rep Michael Litchfield. The aims of the event were to provide training and information on topics such as fatigue, stress and other key safety issues within the rail industry, as well as promoting collaborative working between staff and employers. Presentations were given by guest speakers on a range of topics from stress caused by organisational change, fatigue or work culture, to working together for risk prevention and train cab ergonomics. Speaker after speaker hit home the message on the essential need for worker participation. They advised that it was the person who deals with the same difficulty every day who understands the problem and is therefore the specialist, regardless of grade. The process to solve the problem should not be for management to say, ‘This is what we think the problem is. This is how you will solve it’, but rather ‘What is the problem? How can we solve it together?’7

general secretary Manuel Cortes

Securing your voice – moving towards a merger ‘A very broad consensus is emerging: a merger is inevitable, but one which ensures your voice is heard loudly and clearly.’

‘You will always have the final say. If conference agrees to merge, all members will then get to vote on this.’


A few months ago, I told you that I would be travelling around the UK and Ireland to discuss our union's future with as many members as possible. For the past eight weeks I have been doing this, and whilst I’ll be attending further meetings over the next few months, a clear vision is starting to take shape. Like most of you, I wish that our union could remain fully independent. Unfortunately, we would need around 15,000 extra members to make this a long-term financial possibility. Frankly, it’s hard to see this happening in the current economic climate. Our finances, like those of other unions, have been greatly stretched since the 2008 recession. Job losses have significantly dented membership income. A depressed rental market means that we no longer get as much as we once did from leasing parts of Walkden House. In addition, our investment income – and capital wealth – has suffered as stock markets across the globe collapsed and dividend payments dried up. We have been forced to sell assets to pay our way. These additional income streams on top of members’ subs have for a long period of time allowed us to wash our face. Our membership has been steadily declining since the 1950s. In fact, it is several decades since membership income – on its own – paid for the running of our union. Some of you will doubtless think it may have been wiser to have merged some time ago – hindsight is always a wonderful thing. However, it is our responsibility to deal with this problem now. Luckily, our forebears put something away for a rainy day. Selling investments is helping to keep our union afloat. We still have a strong financial base, even though cash flow remains a concern, due to our biggest asset being locked up in bricks and mortar. This means that it has become clear that in the medium-term, we can no longer remain as we are. It is vital that we take early action, well before our assets are exhausted. If we fail to do this, we will no longer be in control of our destiny. That is why we will be talking to other unions now from a

position of strength, rather being forced into any particular arrangement for financial reasons. Thankfully, a very broad consensus is already emerging. There is clear recognition that whilst a merger is inevitable, we need to secure a deal which ensures that your voice – and that of future generations of transport and travel workers – is heard loudly and clearly. It has fallen on our shoulders to ensure that this happens. In all honesty, there is not a large menu of potential partners. We already approached our sister transport unions, who rather disappointingly told us that they are not interested. As you will know, fundamental disagreements over a range of issues brought our talks with RMT to a halt. The vast majority of unions of a similar size to ours are specialised into one industry or profession – from teachers to radiographers – again, meaning they would not be a suitable partner. This just leaves a few general unions in the frame. So far, in my meetings with members, the overwhelming message is that ideally they would want to avoid merging with one of the very large unions. There is a great fear that if we ended up within a union that already had more than several hundred thousand members, the voice of 25,000 transport and travel workers would be lost forever. I have to say that I am extremely sympathetic to this view. It is clear that the emerging preferred option is seeking a deal with a union not too many times the size of our own. This will further narrow the field. Over the next few months, I will be working hard with your Executive Committee to ensure that we have a clear route map of where our future lies. We will put this in place as soon as possible and by no later than our 2013 conference in May. Of course, you will always have the final say. If at a later stage a conference agrees to merge, all members will then get a vote to either ratify or reject this. This puts you in the driving seat as we seek to secure a strong and viable future for your voice.7

TSSA Journal


TUC Congress

John Harris/

Frances O’Grady takes over as the TUC’s general secretary from January

All change at the TUC THIS YEAR’S TUC marked the beginning of the handover of power to a new general secretary – and a more historic handover than most. The TUC’s first female general secretary began her introductory speech with the line, ‘Well Brothers. You’ve been thinking about this for 144 years. Now… I don’t want to rush you but… Are you really sure?’ At Congress and since, Frances O’Grady, who assumes full responsibility in January, has been starting to stake out a more vocal role for the TUC, with a growing emphasis on organising the movement to act collectively. The change of leadership also gives the chance to challenge preconceptions about the trade union movement, and with it, to more easily take on the government by serving as the natural voice of ordinary working people in Britain. The over-riding theme of this year’s TUC congress was the fight for an economy that delivers jobs and wellbeing for ordinary people. In the debate on the economy, TSSA treasurer Mick


November 2012

Carney highlighted the ‘excuses and lies’ of the Government’s refusal to support train manufacturing in Britain, resulting in the potential closure of Bombardier’s works in Derby, whilst other EU governments supported domestic industry. Manuel Cortes spoke on the motion backing the Action for Rail campaign, co-sponsored by TSSA. Making the case as to why unions across the movement should be supporting the case for a publicly-owned railway, he told Congress, ‘This is a battle of ideas between the neo-liberal privateers and those of us who want public services for the benefit of the people. I am absolutely convinced that if we bring the railways into the public sector, you will be

asking the very valid question: why not those other public services that have been privatised?’ Congress voted in favour of measures to force banks to support the real economy, including turning the government’s majority stake in RBS into 100 per cent ownership and transforming it into a State Investment Bank. There were calls for the democratisation of the governance and ownership of the financial sector which had failed the country so badly. There was strong support for an increase in coordinated action by the unions to resist the government’s slash and burn policies, as well as, more controversially, the ‘consideration and

TSSA’s delegation of Fliss Premru, Mick Carney, Mitch Tovey and Harriet Yeo

practicalities of a general strike’. UNISON leader Dave Prentis said ‘We are never stronger than when we coordinate action, when we speak with one voice… if the employers refuse to negotiate, if the attacks continue – we will deliver coordinated action.’ Carmen Mayusa of the Anthoc Health Workers Union in Colombia addressed Congress, describing how several members of her family – including her brother – were amongst the 3,000 trade unions who have been murdered in her country over the last 22 years. Congress carried a motion to support trade unionists in Colombia and backed the peace process. The TUC also unanimously carried a motion calling for the lifting of Israel’s siege against Gaza and to work with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to send a delegation to visit the coastal enclave. Manuel Cortes was elected to the TUC’s ruling General Council, once again guaranteeing that TSSA members have a voice at the heart of the TUC’s decisionmaking.7

TUC Congress

Which way is Labour facing on public ownership? DURING THE CONFERENCE season we saw the battle for Labour’s rail policy being played out in front of TUC and Labour Party audiences. Whilst Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls poured cold water on the prospects of bringing rail back into the public sector, just three weeks later Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle gave a speech that, in great part, could have been delivered by one of TSSA’s leaders. There’s clearly all to play for, with Maria Eagle explicitly calling on people to lobby other members of the Shadow Cabinet – something those either living or representing members in their constituencies should take particular note of.

Mitch Tovey

When asked by the TSSA’s Mitch Tovey, Ed Balls told the TUC: ‘When we came into government in 1997 we inherited a flawed system. The Railtrack privatisation could never have worked – the reason why I’m convinced the privatisation of the Post Office could never work is because of the experience of Railtrack. ‘The question is, should we be trying to make those contracts work in a fairer way, or should we spend, what would potentially be billions and billions of pounds taking the rail industry back into wholesale public ownership. I’m not sure if we come into government in 2015 that expenditure on that scale will be the first priority, but let’s keep working together.’ Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle told a markedly different story when she addressed the Action for Rail fringe meeting just three weeks later at Labour Party conference: ‘Only a proportion of the millions made by the East Coast since it’s been run by [the publicly owned] Directly Operated Railways would have

returned to taxpayers. Most of it would have gone out to shareholders and directors. This is hundreds of millions of pounds that could be reinvested by the railways rather than leaking out into the profits of private companies. Only an ideological obsession with private profit would lead to the government choosing a return to that failed model. ‘I repeat the call today that I’ve already made to the government: abandon the ideological privatisation of the rail industry. Let’s leave East Coast with DOR, let’s enable them to do a real job with a future to run that line instead of saying to them: ‘we’re going to flog it off next year.’ ‘This is about making a decision in the best interest of taxpayers at a time of extreme pressure on funding. We can’t afford to be giving away public money in this way any longer. Why would you want to do it if it wasn’t ideology? ‘I believe there’s a consensus in the country that privatisation has been a disastrous failure. I believe there’s a real desire for a credible program of reform to deliver a better deal for farepayers and taxpayers. The

reality is that we’re three years away from the election – we don’t know what we’re going to inherit if the public votes for us, we don’t know how many of the franchises the government will have flogged off – though they’re not doing very well so far! We’re going to face legal and financial constraints on what we can do. ‘I’m not going to make promises that we can’t keep. We need more accountability for Network Rail. We need to explore different models of the kind that work across Europe to tackle the cost of fragmentation. Devolution of local and regional services is a good thing. With the East Coast in public hands as a proper comparator, I think this is the way forward. ‘I want all of you to put pressure in the party and in your trade unions, to keep putting that pressure on us – and not only me, but other members of the Shadow Cabinet – to ensure that we can go to the country in the next election with a real rail reform agenda that will inspire people, that will give us a better service.’ 7

TSSA Journal


Labour Party Conference

TSSA’s president – and now Labour NEC chair – Harriet Yeo chairing Labour Party conference

The birth of ‘One Nation Labour’ This year’s Labour Party conference – set against a backdrop of an increasingly shambolic Tory-led government and a consistent lead for Labour in the polls – saw a party much more at ease with itself and with the unions. Gone was much of the factionalism and leadership speculation and, so we were told, gone too would be the attitude of treating the unions like some kind of embarrassing uncle who’d crashed the party. Whilst many crucial questions remain unanswered and will remain so until nearer the next election, this year’s conference saw Labour start to flesh out the vision of a definitively post-New Labour party where ‘reform’ no longer has to mean privatisation and using state intervention to force private enterprises

to behave reasonably is seen as obvious, not taboo. Within this, TSSA had a successful conference, including the passing of our emergency motion condemning the £150 million not passed on to passengers by TOCs from the compensation paid to them by Network Rail. However there are still remnants of the old control freakery around, with our motion having to ‘come back from the dead’ after initially being ruled out of order. In the end sense prevailed and the motion was re-instated, but party bosses must have been kicking themselves that our text on the West Coast franchise had also been ruled out, as it was during the conference that the whole franchising process collapsed. In moving TSSA’s motion, Chris Clark of

TSSA’s delegates, staff and members in Manchester


November 2012

Chris Clark

Underground HQ branch told conference ‘the only way to stop this happening again is to take the profit motive out of Britain’s railways for good’. He also highlighted broader issues including the vital role of station staff during the Olympics, the threat to ticket offices from the McNulty Report and concluded his speech – to much applause – by telling conference, ‘it’s time to send the gravy train into the sidings’. Speaking to the Journal, Chris said ‘As well as the motion on the refunds dodge, I also had the privilege of giving a speech on my experience growing up as a Labour supporter and son of a railway worker in Kent. The speech on the railways had been brewing inside me for 15 years, and I was

Labour Party Conference

The Leader’s speech is always the highlight of the party conference, with Ed Miliband’s assured performance – speaking for 65 minutes without notes – drawing praise from even some of those usually hostile to Labour. He launched the idea of ‘One Nation Labour’, contrasting the Tory-led government’s ‘one rule for those at the top and another for everyone else’ with a refreshed Labour Party that would govern in the interests of all. Ed Miliband developed the theme that irresponsible ‘predator’ capitalism at the top – be that from banks, train companies or utility firms – must end. Banks were told to get their houses in order by the next election, otherwise one of the first acts of a Labour government would be to break off their ‘casino’ investment arms from their high street operations. Despite it being necessary for Ed to achieve much of his ‘one nation’ agenda, it remains to be seen whether Labour will decisively break from ever-harsher austerity. Narrowing the gap between rich and poor or the north and south can’t be fulfilled by continuing to cut from those currently most reliant on the state but just a little less far and a little less fast. Under Labour as much as the Tories, there would need to be a massive programme of public investment to revitalise the economy. The consistent poll lead now enjoyed by Labour may hopefully encourage a bolder approach in the coming months. Ed Miliband’s speech described his direction of travel, rather than laying out many specific policies. Yet the tone was very welcome, with its focus on the lives of ordinary people rather than trying to please the Murdoch press. Ed’s talk of ‘the forgotten 50 per cent’ who don’t go to university, would never be prioritised by the Tories. His speech started to set out the policies to flesh out these ideas, like a new ‘gold standard’ Technical Baccalaureate to be taken at 18 and a requirement that only those large companies that train apprentices will be able to win government contracts. The speech was warmly received by the TSSA delegation. Manjit Gill told the Journal, ‘It was a brilliant speech by Ed Milliband, concluding that we as One Nation can work together and collectively achieve a better quality of life for the whole of the UK.’ Trevor Ollis was pleasantly surprised: ‘Two years ago I was somewhat disappointed (as a ‘Blairite’) that my choice of leader had been rejected in favour of his brother. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised in not only the style, but the charisma that he showed, which was clearly from the heart. At this moment in time he would be elected Prime Minister – let’s hope he keeps the momentum.’

up writing it till 2am the night before. I’m very proud of the way it came out’. Manjit said, ‘as a first time TSSA delegate it was brilliant to be part of the process with all the delegates, Councillors, MEPs and MPs working together to rebuild Britain. The theme was set by Ed Miiliband, who used the great feel-good experience of the Jubilee and the Olympic Games to celebrate the spirit of collective action in the British people. ‘As well as the transport fringes, I really enjoyed attending debates on stopping the BNP and achieving a free Palestine as well as the celebration which honoured the pioneering efforts of Paul Boateng, Diane Abbot, Keith Vaz and Bernie Grant over the last 25 years.’ At the conclusion of conference, TSSA’s president Harriet Yeo was elected to also serve as the chairperson of Labour’s National Executive for the next year. This vital role lets a TSSA member literally set the agenda for Labour’s ruling body over the next 12 months, underlining the benefits of the renewed Labour-union link. 7

Transport Labour Shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle’s speech condemned the government for accepting TOCs requests for ticket office closures, re-iterated Labour’s pledge to legislate so that fare increase caps would apply to every ticket and slammed the compensation dodge highlighted in TSSA’s emergency motion whereby TOCs keep most of the funds paid to them as compensation for delays. There was also a refreshing honesty that Labour didn’t get a grip on rail fares during its time in office: ‘Let’s be honest – this Government has made things worse, but transport costs were already too high. Because there are fundamental, long term problems with our transport system. And only real reform will deliver a better deal on rail.’ She set out an aspiration to ‘end the era of above inflation fare rises, while still delivering vital investment’ – something that goes beyond Labour’s current demand of RPI+1 per cent caps, correctly identifying that ‘the real waste comes from the costs of fragmentation’. Maria Eagle’s comments on public ownership are reported on page 13, made whilst speaking alongside Manuel Cortes at the Action for Rail fringe meeting. Manuel also shared a platform with junior shadow transport minister Lilian Greenwood at the Labour Transport Group fringe, chaired by TSSA member Mike Parker.

TSSA Journal


© Jess Hurd/

Ed Miliband’s speech draws praise

NRTS 2012

National Reps Training Seminar: The future of transport and travel THIS YEAR TSSA’S multi-day training event for reps took place in Sheffield – a historic venue for TSSA, where the Association was founded 115 years ago. Our 5th annual NRTS was opened by general secretary Manuel Cortes and the president of Sheffield Trades Council Martin Mayer. Delegates then heard from the New Economics Foundation who gave an insightful presentation on how flawed austerity policies are damaging the prospects for economic recovery. The overall theme of NRTS was to look at how we can invigorate our members, incorporate more into our activities and help build change. Reps worked through how we could implement these organising principles across various campaigns, from the re-nationalisation of the railways to making sure members feel supported by an effective local branch. On the first day everyone worked together to create a ‘problem tree’ – a visual map of all the major problems that


November 2012

arise in the workplace. The rest of the seminar was spent looking at the changes needed to overcome these and how we can enable that change to happen. Delegates worked in teams to plan elements of their campaign, such as how to engage the company, community and other supporters to form a coalition, or at least to build bases amongst potential allies. Others looked at how to make their campaign personally relevant to potential supporters through, for example, workplace skills, the idea that workers should be providing quality services to the public, with socially-useful (rather than just profit maximising) fares and environmentally sustainable practice.

Delegates pay their respects at the Hillsborough disaster memorial

One example was the project worked on by the team from the Midlands, who planned out a campaign for bringing the rail network back into public ownership, with a vision to ensure lower fares for all. Their plans included working with MPs, local councils, community and commuter groups and the DfT, including activity through social media and the national media. Methods were developed with the aim of getting the policy into the next Labour manifesto, strategies for gaining the support of local and commuter-related groups and finding a leading figure to front the campaign. TSSA education officer Adèle Potten-Price, who organised the event adds ‘When all the groups presented

Each group worked on a ‘problem tree’ to map out the issue they were working on

their plans we had a variety of really well thought through strategies – but I must say the song and presentation from the London South East team was truly a sight to behold!’ 7

i Can you help your local

reps, activists or branch with skills, contacts or other forms of help? Everything and everyone counts towards building our capacity to support members. Not sure how to contact your local branch? Contact the helpdesk: 0800 328 2673 Eire: 1800 805 272.

Learning TSSA Union Learning Reps from across the UK and Ireland recently came together for an annual seminar that was described as ‘positive’ and ‘inspiring’. This year’s theme was ‘Changing lives, changing workplaces’ and it was clear from many of the contributions that TSSA ULRs are working towards doing just that.

Union Learning: shifting up a gear THE EVENT OPENED with a welcome from TSSA’s treasurer Mick Carney, who praised the positive work that ULRs do and the importance of learning as an organising tool. Interactive workshops utilising videos, case-studies and a ‘Learning Tree’ helped prompt discussion on the key issues and obstacles for the work ULRs are involved in. While the seminar heard inspiring reports of work that ULRs are involved in, the emphasis of the event was very much on work that will be done in the future. ‘I found the seminar really empowering’, said Translink Ulsterbus Inspector and ULR Greg McKernan. ‘It was highly

educational and I got a real sense of community out of it. I love coming over and touching base with everyone at events like this. I certainly went home with a renewed vigour to tackle issues in the workplace’. One of the highlights of the event were the ‘speed stalls’ that gave ULRs mini-taster sessions across a range of issues. From social networking to apprenticeships, online IT resources to the Better Rail campaign, each speed-stall was informative and empowering. Many ULRs pledged to take the information they had been given back to use in their workplace.

Mo Begum: ‘I hope to set up a Learning Centre’

Mo Begum, one of the lead ULRs that helped facilitate the event said: ‘This was the first time I had presented at a national event and I was nervous. But the more I participated, the more confident I became. From the event I have learnt new methods of promoting learning and hope to go back and set up a Learning Centre in my workplace.’ Company-based planning sessions were seen as a useful way to plan and identify key issues for ULRs and the union more generally. It quickly became clear that the most effective way to organise in the workplace was by working closely with industrial reps, health and safety reps and other activists to address common concerns. The seminar also heard from

the union’s equality and diversity organiser who spoke about TSSA’s work on neurodiversity – an area that affects many members and their families and one that ULRs committed to do work on locally. The event saw many ULRs sign up to Learn to Grow, a new TSSA Learning initiative that will show how gardening can be used as a learning tool. Through the distribution of seeds and educational material members will be encouraged and supported to grow vegetables in their workplaces. A wider perspective to union learning was provided by after-dinner speaker and former West Bromwich Albion footballer Paul Raven. Paul now works as Union Learning Project worker for the PFA and gave an inspiring talk about the work their union does to support footballers in learning projects at every level of the game. The event ended with a rousing address from Manuel Cortes who pledged support for the work of ULRs and made clear its priority within the union’s campaigns to improve the lives of our members and their families. 7 TSSA Journal


Year of Horror

This Halloween we launch our campaign theme for next year, our Year of Horror 2013. As part of our fight for a better railway, we want to highlight the horror waste in our system and the reasons why we need a publicly owned railway.

Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money is being shovelled into the profits of shareholders rather than being invested in a better railway that is both affordable and accessible to all. Heard it all before? So have most of the public, with recent polls showing 70 per cent support for public ownership. Yet the pressure felt by politicians has so far been insufficient to convince them that people feel strongly enough about it for them to need to act. That’s why we are launching our Year of Horror 2013, to highlight the horror waste and mismanagement of our railways under a privatised system. We need to organise ourselves and our communities in support of change that will make a better railway, show our anger at the horror cuts being forced through via the franchise process and the government’s agenda to cut, cut, cut!

Fight the Horror Cuts On October 20 hundreds of TSSA members joined the protests against the Government’s cuts agenda. Whilst many areas of spending are being slashed immediately, their cuts agenda for rail, spelt out in the Command Paper released in March, is more subtle in execution, but still devastating in its results. At the same time, Train Operating Companies have been implementing cuts to that chime with the government agenda –proposing ticket office closures, installing ticket machines to justify further staff cuts and not replacing workers as they leave. These cuts are rarely noticed


November 2012

by the public until fare increases become reality or until their ticket office is closed. But as the West Coast debacle has shown, there are many opportunities to fight the horror cuts to rail before it’s too late. The Better Rail campaign will focus our fight in the Year of Horror 2013 on our vision of: A Quality Public Service that is publicly owned and accountable with better stations, quality infrastructure and is integrated with other means of transport Better jobs, decent work, career opportunities A highly skilled workforce A railways that is safe to work on, safe to travel on Where the community has a voice and can shape the system Fares that are affordable and the railway is cost effective, delivering value for money Technology that improves the travel experience but is not an alternative to decent work or a quality public service Environmentally friendly transport We need to highlight the faults in our current system on a local level, reaching out to our colleagues, passengers, community groups, politicians and other decision makers. Our Year of Horror 2013 will provide us with a platform to raise awareness on the crisis in the rail industry – and have fun along the way!

Freddy Cuts He just doesn’t make sense Potential cuts include closing over 600 ticket offices, with more than a thousand at risk of at least a cut to their opening hours. Tens of thousands of staff are under threat on platforms, in ticket offices and on trains. How do we make the railway affordable and accessible to all? A quality service for the public? With an infrastructure that will enable our economy to grow? The government’s plan takes us in the opposite direction. That just doesn’t make sense.

Ghosts of the Railway’s Future Ghost trains and ghost stations are our future unless we act now! On the October 20 demonstration we depicted the government’s vision for rail – a ghost train, full of the ghosts of passengers who can no longer afford to travel by rail, heading to ghost stations with no staff, only machines. TSSA’s campaigns against fare increases and ticket office cuts have received overwhelming support from passengers and community groups who are joining with us to fight for a better railway. We need to further increase the pressure for a properly staffed railway and keep the ghost trains off our network.

Year of Horror Toxic Waste Monster

Vamping-up Fares

Crazed Ticket Vending Machines

Fight him to eliminate the waste in our system

Sucking the life from unsuspecting passengers

They’re taking over stations near you

The UK has the most expensive fares in Europe – with prices accelerating further and further ahead of wages. In the last two and a half years fares have risen by 12 per cent. By the time of the next general election they will have increased by a staggering 20 to 25 per cent. Whilst the government are driving forward cuts in the railways, at the same time they are increasing fares at an inflation-busting rate. In our Year of Horror 2013 we will take a stand against unreasonable and unaffordable fares and remind the government that rail travel is a key enabler of the economy and that pricing people away from rail will damage the prospects for growth.

The Government Command Paper supports replacing station staff with ticket vending machines. Our Stations Postcard Campaign has given us the direct proof we need to show that passengers do not want to replace their face-to-face customer service with machines. This research that our members conducted earlier this year identified Ticket Vending Machines as being the least valued of the features we asked people about. Although we are told how TVMs are a quick and easy way to buy tickets, what is not reported or recorded by TOCs are the queries that Ticket Office staff receive from people who try to use the machines and are presented with errors, or are not offered the full range of tickets, or encounter faults in the machines. Some of our members in a busy London station report spending 40 per cent of their day dealing with queries from people who have tried to use machines and faced a problem. These instances simply show as sales for machines, not as sales or valuable services provided by staff members, thus adding to the arguments the government are using to increase TVMs and decrease staff. This is just one of the barriers TVMs pose to the aim of providing a quality public service. We believe in technology, but not to the exclusion of human contact that’s highly valued by passengers.

Over £1 billion could be saved in our railways each year if the railway was returned to public ownership according to the Rebuilding Rail report. Taxpayer subsidy of the railways has doubled since privatisation – up from £2.4bn to £5.4bn. Yet when investigating the farce of the franchising system, the government have ruled out even looking at the savings – estimated at over £1bn a year that could be saved by a return to public ownership. Ignoring this waste just doesn’t make sense. In our Year of Horror 2013 we will take this debate back into our communities with vigour, ensuring our politicians and other decision makers understand the answer is not to eliminate jobs and services, but to eliminate the waste in the system.

Get active in the Year of Horror 2013 Our Better Rail campaign set a new standard this year of holding an average of one action per week. We want to keep to this level of activity by holding one action per week right through 2013! But just in case that's not enough to get the attention of the government and industry decision makers, we will also hold 13 major actions or stunts throughout the year. What you can do to get active: talk to your branch about what action they would like to do and pledge an action on pledge to do the Better Rail workplace survey, contact Nadine Rae on get involved in our fares campaign, contact Sam Tarry on send your spooky action ideas to

TSSA Journal


Better Rail

Better Rail Conference – join us on 29 November TO END AN action packed year with a bang, TSSA are holding a Better Rail Conference on 29 November 2012 in London. Hot on the heels of the launch of the ‘Year of Horror 2013’, representatives from TOCs, Network Rail, infrastructure companies, BTP and our freight operating companies will be invited to attend the first ever Better Rail Conference to deliberate on key issues and develop strategies in our fight for a better railway.

Industry Standards When we launched the Better Rail campaign at TSSA conference in May 2012, we started our consultation with members on what they felt should be part of TSSA’s vision for rail. So we have been asking members what they think will make a better railway. This will help us form a standard for the industry – standards for workplace terms and

conditions that all our rail members can bargain towards in 2013 and beyond. If you have a job in rail, what future should that provide you and your family? Our industry standards will be a top agenda item at this year’s Better Rail Conference. Make sure your company is represented: contact Nadine Rae on for more information.

Better Rail Workplace Survey We want to know what those in your workplace think will make a better railway. This month we launch the Better Rail Workplace Survey across all our rail membership – Network Rail, TOCs, BTP, etc. Over the next few months our activists and leaders will be asking members what their top issues are and what they think will make a better railway. The answers will help

us identify the issues we need to focus on to organise and build strength in our workplaces. It will also help build our vision of Better Rail. We need the help of all our leaders and activists – will you help out? In the next four months we want workplace leaders and activists to conduct the Better Rail survey in their workplace. Here’s a quick guide on how to conduct your workplace survey: l Aim to do the survey over the course of four weeks. Choose your four week period sometime between November 2012 and February 2013. l Request a survey pack online at l Identify a group of contacts

who can help you gather your surveys. Use your survey pack to plan together how you will get it done. l Approach people to complete the surveys. Ask them to return them to your contacts. l Post the completed forms in together, using the envelopes in your Survey Packs. The surveys will be collated centrally and the results will be reported to you locally and also to the TOC National Council. That way we can identify common issues but also support your organising at the local level. 7


Pledge to do the survey today: pledge For more information contact Nadine Rae on


November 2012

Woody Guthrie

A century of Woody Guthrie: folk singer and trade unionist

John Partington looks at the life and contribution of the musician best-known for his song ‘This Land Is Your Land’.

2012 MARKS THE hundredth anniversary of the birth of Woody Guthrie, the singing hobo who carried political folk song from the Oklahoma dust bowl to the urban centres of Los Angeles, New York and – ultimately – to listeners around the world. In the mid-1930s, at the height of the Great Depression, Guthrie travelled across America with farm labourers and sharecroppers who had lost their land through bank foreclosures or the environmental damage caused by over-farming the land. The dustbowlers headed to California, where farm agents promised them plentiful work and good wages – but they arrived to find the farm work hugely oversubscribed, pitiful wages, appalling conditions and racial animosity being stirred up between them and poor, often illegal Mexican workers being used as cheap labour. Guthrie penned a column, ‘Woody Sez’, for the People’s World newspaper, exposing the exploitation by California farmers and promoting organised resistance by the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing, and Allied Workers of

America. He also started his decades of song writing, highlighting the plight of working people and promoting organised resistance in songs such as ‘Do-Re-Mi’ and ‘Tom Joad’. In 1940, Guthrie left California and headed east, basing himself in New York for the rest of his life. He quickly joined the Almanac Singers and starting a frenetic crisscrossing of the USA, promoting the Congress of Industrial Organizations (a TUC equivalent) and promoting union organisation and recognition through the medium of song. The Almanacs were commissioned to record such union songs as ‘Boomtown Bill’ and ‘Keep That Oil A-Rollin’ for the Oil Workers International Union, and ‘Song for Bridges’ for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and they promoted women’s organisation through ‘Union Maid’. With the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Almanacs became enthusiastic anti-fascists, seeing organised labour as the greatest weapon against

Nazism. In this context they penned ‘Roll the Union On’ and ‘Round and Round Hitler’s Grave’. Guthrie joined the merchant marine, making three transatlantic voyages on Liberty Ships and becoming active in the National Maritime Union. Although still performing after the war, Guthrie’s creative abilities quickly deteriorated with the onset of Huntington’s Disease and from 1953 he was permanently hospitalised. In perhaps his last great comment on the state of labour in the USA, Guthrie wrote ‘Deportees’ in 1948, a song about a planeload of Mexican labour, deported from California as illegal, which crashed in the Los Gatos Canyon, killing all on board. Guthrie was incensed by the fact that none of the victims were named; they were reported simply as ‘the deportees’. After a long decline, Guthrie died, aged 55, in 1967 from complications resulting from Huntington’s Disease. The continued relevance of Guthrie to today’s struggles was highlighted this July at the Tolpuddle Martyrs’ Festival, when folk singer Will

Kaufman was invited to perform a 45 minute set of Guthrie songs, ‘Woody Guthrie: Hard Times and Hard Travellin’, at which a number of TSSA members were present, myself included. 7 Dr John S Partington, TSSA health and safety rep, Network Rail Reading Depot

With the approach of Guthrie’s centenary, John Partington decided to gather a group of fellow enthusiasts and scholars to compose a collection of essays looking at Guthrie’s life, music and thought. The book gives special emphasis to Guthrie’s labour unionism and anti-fascism, and the power of song in promoting resistance to industrial and political oppression. The book, The Life, Music and Thought of Woody Guthrie: A Critical Appraisal, can be obtained for £49.50 from 9780754669555.

TSSA Journal


BT Police

Our vision for British Transport Police came up with ‘Our Vision for TSSA MEMBERS AT BTP are issues that affect us in the BTP’. The vision is a pledge getting organised. After a workplace, with top problems from our TSSA reps to fight for tough organising campaign identified as: the things that will make BTP l Lack of training, TSSA won recognition to better, both for TSSA members development and career represent police staff in 2008. and the travelling public. opportunities Since then, our TSSA l The Sickness Standard representatives have been Operating Procedure (SOP), Standard Operating fighting for a better BTP. where illness counts against Procedures (SOPs) TSSA has sole recognition performance and inhibits Many of us are aware there are for members of the British access to training a multitude of SOPs at BTP. Transport Police force who are l Not feeling valued Our reps review the SOPS staff (as opposed to Police l Lack of communication regularly with management, Officers). That includes Police l Safety equipment for PCSOs ensuring changes are made in Community Support Officers Our reps got together to the interests of our members. (PCSOs), control room, clerical go over the issues and Reps are currently looking at and admin staff, Scene of aspirations of BTP workers and the Sickness SOP under which Crime Officers (SOCOs) and workers at the Crime Recording Centre, amongst others. Earlier this year we We TSSA members believe that everybody at BTP has the launched a workplace survey right to work in an environment that is free from stress, for both members and nonwhere we are all respected and acknowledged for the roles members in BTP, asking them we play in delivering safe and secure public transport. what they liked about working Together, we will: for BTP and what were their l Empower, engage and communicate with our members top issues or problems that and provide continued support they faced at work l Consult and negotiate with management to achieve A regular theme within the better terms and conditions including: responses was people telling – pay us they liked working for BTP – SOPs, like sickness because of ‘The great people I – flexible working hours to allow us to achieve a better work with’ or ‘The friendly worklife balance staff’. Another added ‘The l Fight to improve training, development and access to variety of work and feeling like career opportunities I might be able to make a l Drive change in the culture of our workplace to ensure difference’. everyone is respected and unnecessary stress due to Clearly our members are policies or practice is eliminated. very proud of the work they do in BTP, and rightly so. Every and Achieve and, Support Together we St BTP worker plays a e rep is: part in making the Your workplac 2673 sk 0800 328 de lp He railways safe to .uk .uk/join travel and work on. .uk/btp rg a.o tss w. ww But there are still

Our Vision for BTP

............. .....................




November 2012

the union for people in transport and travel

taking a day off sick counts against your performance and means you will not be put forward for training or career progression opportunities. Reps are also working on a Stress Management SOP. This SOP allows for organisational stress audits and regular risk assessments, training for managers on how to manage stress, support and specialist advice for staff on how to deal with stress and provides for initiatives which have health benefits to be available for all staff. The SOP also describes common causes of stress as well as the effects and symptoms of stress – a useful document which can be requested from your HR Business Partner. If you think yourself or a colleague is suffering from workplace stress, find more info and sources of help at Have your say: If you would like to have your say and complete the survey see on What you think of these SOPs and others? Contact us on Join the campaign: We’ll be running sessions for members and reps throughout November as part of our ‘Volunteering for Vision’ organising campaign. If you want to get more involved, please register for the sessions on 9, 16, 19 or 29 November.7


What is neurodiversity? New neurodiversity organiser for the Midlands and North © John Harris/

CONDITIONS SUCH AS dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Aspergers Syndrome are all grouped under the title of neurodiversity (ND), with workers with these conditions often facing barriers in the workplace. TSSA launched the ‘Lost for Words’ dyslexia project in early 2010 to raise awareness of dyslexia at work. This expanded into the TSSA neurodiversity project, supported by the Union Learning Fund, which aims to raise awareness of the main ND conditions and help develop more ND-friendly policies and practices in TSSA workplaces. A relatively common example of a neurodiverse condition is Aspergers Syndrome. Aspergers Syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a ‘spectrum disorder’ because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. Aspergers Syndrome is mostly a ‘hidden disability’, meaning you can’t tell that someone has the condition from their appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas: social communication, social interaction and social imagination. Awareness of the barriers that people with Aspergers Syndrome may encounter at work is rising. TSSA has been at the forefront of the work in this field by

commissioning independent academic research so we can better understand and support members in TSSA workplaces with Aspergers Syndrome or related conditions. Neurodiversity focus groups Over the summer, independent focus group research exploring members and non-members attitudes to, and knowledge of, neurodiversity in TSSA workplaces was conducted. Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh held five focus groups, the results of which will inform an awareness campaign in the first half of 2013. The researchers will present their findings at a reception in Parliament on 3 December – if you have an interest in this area would like to join us, email Susannah Gill on Neurodiversity training As part of the neurodiversity project, and building on the success of the previous ‘Lost for Words’ campaign to raise awareness of dyslexia, we have organised a three day training course by our project partner Dyslexia Action in February 2013. The

training will create a new union role in TSSA workplaces – that of Neurodiversity Support Adviser. ND Support Advisers will be trained to screen members for ND conditions, talk through neurodiversity issues in confidence with members and take issues up with employers. We also envisage that ND support advisers will play a strong role in raising awareness of neurodiversity issues more generally in their organisation, through campaigning and organising around these issues. The training is open to all TSSA members. We are looking for course participants to sign a commitment that they will actively use this training to screen, organise, represent members and develop awareness of neurodiversity in their workplace. The training dates are 13, 14 February and then either 20 or 28 February. The first training course will be held in central London and we will hold future courses in the Midlands and the North. Please email the Neurodiversity Organisers on (South) or (Midlands/North) if you are interested in signing up. 7

Earlier this year, TSSA successfully bid for further Union Learning funding to expand the neurodiversity project work nationally. Sarah Hughes has recently taken on the part-time role as the TSSA Neurodiversity learning organiser covering the North and the Midlands. Sarah’s background is in health, and she is a registered learning disability nurse and a health visitor. Sarah will be playing a crucial role in supporting members, ND support advisers and learning representatives in raising awareness, identifying, planning and pursuing learning, dyslexia and other neurodiversity opportunities. Sarah will also be negotiating with employers around neurodiversity support, guidance and resources. Sarah works two days a week and is based in TSSA’s York office. She can be contacted on 07590 183 727 and by email on

TSSA Journal


Christian Wolmar We knew it was bad, but Christian Wolmar asks just how the West Coast franchising process came to be so flawed.


‘The Thick of it’

The franchising omnishambles The West Coast fiasco would have been rejected as a script for the political satire show ‘The Thick of it’ as too outlandish. Never in my years of criticising the franchising system and asking the question ‘what is franchising for?’ would I have dreamt that it could get this bad. To argue, as some in the industry suggest, that this is just a temporary blip in the wonderfully successful history of franchising is to be living in a dreamland ruled by Thomas the Tank Engine. Franchising will never be the same again, not least because the wider public has,


November 2012

again, been exposed to the failings of the privatised rail industry. The key point is that this omnishambles – such an apt new word used by the Alistair Campbell figure, Malcolm Tucker, in the show – has resulted precisely from the way that the franchise system has developed and that’s why the system is unrepairable. The franchising system, created at privatisation when the disastrous decision to separate the infrastructure from operations was made, has always suffered from the fact that ministers have been unclear about its purpose. Ostensibly, it is to attract private sector innovation and to

stimulate competition during the bidding process, but, in fact, neither of these aims has been achieved. Sure, there have been some improvements to rail services since privatisation but very few of these can be attributed to private sector innovation – British Rail, remember, created ‘The Age of the Train’ and while its front man, Jimmy Savile, may have been discredited, the HST 125s that it heralded still pound up and down the tracks reliably and comfortably. As for competition, the potential bidders are now only a handful of transport companies, created out of the bus deregulation of the 1980s, and

Christian Wolmar the government taking all the ticket revenue and the franchisee merely running the trains on a contract basis – he said it would ‘take away the incentive from the private companies to boost revenue’. This is just nonsense. Hundreds of contracts are run on this basis and the incentive, surely, is for a company to do well so that it wins future deals. Yet, somehow, the old gramophone record is stuck with the notion that the only way to run things is through private companies motivated by greed and personal gain. That idea, in fact, is rather insulting to the private firms, as well as disregarding the very successful examples of public enterprise throughout history. Therefore, while a ‘review’ of franchising is to take place headed by Eurostar chairman Richard Brown, abandoning the whole concept will clearly not be within his remit. As for full scale nationalisation, which actually can be done for free by letting the franchises run their course, the Coalition, of course, was never going to go near it, but there is clearly an opportunity for Labour, here. Promising to end the ‘franchising fiasco’ and simply take back franchises into public ownership would not only save money but make sense politically since it has widespread public support. It was noticeable that on Any Questions recently a largely Tory supporting audience clapped spontaneously when Mark Serwotka, the

PCS union leader, suggested renationalisation. And there is already an example to show it works. Since East Coast was taken into public ownership in 2009, it has returned more than £416m to the Exchequer through profitable running and has improved performance. Moreover, the move has been immensely popular with staff: sickness is down from an annual average of 14 days to just 9 while nearly 70 per cent of staff have taken part in the annual ‘engagement’ survey, much higher than under private ownership. In fact Directly Operated Railways, which runs East Coast, was all ready to take over West Coast when Patrick McLoughlin pulled the franchise process. As it now appears likely that the West Coast franchise will still not have been let permanently by the time of the next general election, Labour has a good opportunity to show that it has really abandoned the old neo-liberal agenda favoured by the Blairites by promising to bring it into public ownership. It would be the perfect response to the omnishambles. 7


Christian Wolmar is seeking to be Labour candidate for the 2016 London mayoral election – see If you would like him to come to speak at a branch meeting, contact him via

CC By Matt Ingham

European state owned railways – no one else is interested in taking on franchises, which is hardly surprising given the complexity of the system. And it is that complexity which has been at the root of the problem. Initially, franchise deals were relatively simple – the first Gatwick Express successful bid by National Express was just eight pages long – but ministers were worried about franchises going bust or making superprofits. It was this mad urge to privatise and yet retain control that directly led to this mess. In the West Coast franchise, two extra features were introduced, adding a further overlay of complexity into the process. First, because passenger numbers have traditionally gone up or down according to the economy, there was to be an adjustment to the premiums paid back to the government on the basis of the overall economic situation. So if there were another prolonged recession, the premium payments would have been reduced and in a boom the operator would have had to pay more. Secondly, the bond payment – the supposed security against the operator not being able to fulfil the contract – was made variable in accordance with the risk; in other words, if a franchise were more likely to fail, which was clearly the case with FirstGroup’s bigger bid, then the bond would have to be larger. In both cases, apparently, these calculations proved faulty and that’s why ministers, not daring to risk putting the model up in the court case brought by Virgin, decided to scrap the whole process. Singling out the three civil servants who were suspended was completely unfair. As The Independent (October 15) showed, there had been major cuts in the Department with 20 or more senior officials being made redundant. Moreover, there was no single person in the DfT left in charge of the railways – a clear mistake. The most depressing aspect of this tale is that the lessons are not being learned. Sitting at a lunch next to Norman Baker, the Lib Dem junior transport minister recently, it was depressing to hear the same old neoliberal mantra being trotted out. When I suggested that the franchises could, at least, be let out on the basis of concessions as with the very successful London Overground – in other words with

A view from the future? Unbranded Pendolinos were expected to appear in the coming weeks had Virgin been due to give up the franchise.

TSSA Journal


Paul Salveson

CC BY-SA2 Ingy The Wingy

Where now for ‘Community Rail’? Any past suspicion that Community Rail would act as a cover for attacks on staff should be put aside – its volunteers can be powerful allies, argues Paul Salveson network as privatisation loomed in the early 1990s. A report called ‘New Futures for Rural Rail’ sponsored by the soon-tobe-abolished BR Regional Railways, The Countryside Commission and the Rural Development Commission (both also abolished), tried to chart some positive ways forward which would drive up use of rural lines and make closure less politically attractive. There were two key strategies developed in that report. One was to create ‘community rail partnerships’ that could begin in a fairly modest way to promote rural (and other local) routes by bringing together not just local authorities and the rail industry, but the

with permission of ACoRP

The Association of Community Rail Partnerships (ACoRP) held its annual awards dinner in the fine surroundings of STEAM, the museum of the Great Western Railway, in Swindon at the end of September. There were over 300 guests, including senior managers from Network Rail and train operating companies, plus plenty of community activists from projects around the country. As far as I could see, the trade union movement was un-represented, though some of the rail managers present were TSSA members. The ‘community rail’ movement is nearly 20 years old. It started as a result of concerns over the future of the rural rail

Winners of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships awards


November 2012

wider community. Involving schools, local businesses, tourism agencies – and the railway staff themselves – was suggested as a way to develop a positive momentum for these routes. The second approach was more long-term and involved some of the more rural railways being managed semi-independently, based on the success of locally-managed railways on the continent, particularly Germany. The approach became known as ‘microfranchising’. The concept was based on giving a local company (which could be publicly-owned) direct control over train services and potentially infrastructure, bringing a strong focus to local markets backed up by well-motivated managers and front-line staff. Nearly twenty years on, there are around 60 ‘community rail partnerships’ and hundreds of ‘station friends’ groups. Ridership on many rural lines has more than doubled over the last twenty years and any threat of closure, at least for now, is off the agenda. As for micro-franchising, it has never happened. The reasons are numerous but one major factor is the sheer inflexibility of the post-privatised railway, where doing anything that diverges from the norm is difficult if not impossible to effect. And it has to be admitted that there was considerable suspicion amongst railway trade unionists that micro-franchising could have led to

Paul Sal veson lower rates of pay and poorer conditions. So twenty years on, where should the ‘community rail’ movement go from here? Many of the problems facing local and rural lines today stem not from insufficient numbers of passengers but from a lack of capacity to meet rising demand. ‘Community rail’ has been all too successful and by its achievements in driving up passenger numbers many lines have reached the point where a stepchange in operation is essential. Many rural lines were stripped back to the absolute basics by BR in the 1970s, by single-tracking and removing passing loops. On several routes, any attempt to provide additional services now requires costly investment in infrastructure. And putting in new services means that more rolling stock is required, again at an oftenprohibitive cost. Neither of these are challenges that a community rail partnership can meet on its own. It needs Network Rail, the Department for Transport (and the Scottish and Welsh Governments for their railways) to develop plans which give local railways the ‘head room’ which allows them to continue growing and meet the needs of local communities. Yet community rail partnerships can play an important lobbying role, based on the respect they have gained over the last two decades. Community rail partnerships (CRPs), often resourced by local authorities, are developing innovative long-term strategies for their routes in areas as diverse as Devon and Cornwall, Lancashire, Mid-Wales and Cumbria. The very locally-based work of community rail partnerships is still important. In many parts of the country

Music on the Penistone Line, with a local rock band – all Northern Rail employees – entertaining passengers

‘community rail’ has been successful in introducing rail travel to socially-excluded groups. Volunteers have transformed the appearance of unstaffed stations through floral displays and artwork as well as ensuring community information is displayed. It may be small beer but it’s important in making the railway really ‘feel’ like it’s part of a local community. And in many cases local railway staff have played an enthusiastic part in helping these developments. At many smaller staffed stations, railway men and women have worked with ‘station friends’ to make their stations look a delight. Examples include Kidsgrove, Settle, Appleby, Glossop, Todmorden, Wemyss Bay, Littleborough, Poulton-le-Fylde and many more. And it’s these stations where there is a real risk of staff being reduced or removed altogether. I’ve spoken to station friends groups up and down the country as well as community rail partnership officers, about their views on this. And it is clear there is unanimous opposition. The work of station friends and CRPs has always been in addition to that done by professional railway staff, and that relationship has worked well. There is no desire to take on booking office duties, let alone cleaning out the gents’ toilet. So there’s an opportunity for the rail unions, particularly TSSA and RMT, to work with community rail groups to build a coalition of resistance to booking office closures. Instead of seeing ‘station friends’ groups as at best irrelevant or at worst a potential threat to jobs, it’s time we started talking to them and building up relationships. Many ‘station friends’ wouldn’t necessarily see themselves as campaigners, but if someone came along and threatened to take away their station staff, it might just tilt them into action. People feel passionate about their local station and many station friends have formed excellent relationships with paid staff: losing them wouldn’t just be the loss of a ‘facility’, it would be the loss of a mate. TSSA has been ahead of the game in recruiting ‘community organisers’ and they’ve done a great job. Now is the time to start talking to ‘station friends’ across the country and enlist their support in the fight against staff reductions. For the community rail movement

One of the winners celebrated by ACoRP was Simon Clarke, of TSSA’s Northern Rail Lancs & Cumbria branch, who won the photography competition. His image, of Mill Hill station near Blackburn, celebrates the launch of an art project involving the East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership, a local artist, primary school children, a youth group and senior citizens, working to reclaim a sense of community ownership over the station and improve safety.

generally, it needs to recognise that the unions are allies and that ‘community’ includes the men and women who make our railways work, day in and day out. Some of the CRPs have recognised that, even to the extent that some have rail union members actively involved. Yorkshire’s Penistone Line Partnership – one of Britain’s first – is chaired by a member of Aslef and TSSA member Garry Keyworth is a member of the committee. But there is so much more potential. So a suggestion to TSSA: Talk to local community rail partnerships and in particular the national Association of Community Rail Partnerships. There is so much more in common than you might think. 7


Paul Salveson is a member of TSSA’s Yorkshire Ridings Branch and was general manager of the Association of Community Rail Partnerships from its inception until 2005. He was author of the report ‘New Futures for Rural Rail’.

TSSA Journal


financ e statement TRADE UNION AND LABOUR RELATIONS (CONSOLIDATION) ACT 1992 (AMENDED) The above Act requires TSSA to produce the following statement to members


2010 £

Total income Total expenditure Membership income Political Fund income Political Fund expenditure General secretary’s salary and pension contributions General secretary (elect) salary and pension contributions

6,271,353 9,048,416 4,196,417 161,455 117,314 93,028 14,991

12,186,252 6,875,425 4,227,504 165,239 251,956 104,851

Total income is composed of

5,375,353 896,000 6,777,416 2,271,000

Association income Pension income Association and pension costs

Total expenditure is composed of

THE AUDITORS of the Association, Sayer Vincent Accountants and Registered Auditors of 8 Angel Gate, City Road, London EC1V 2SJ, reported to the members on the financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2011 on 20 April 2012 and their report was as follows:

Independent Auditors Report to the members of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association WE HAVE AUDITED the financial statements of the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association for the year ended 31st December 2011 which comprise the Branch Account, the Divisional Councils Account, the Self Organised Groups Account, the Political Fund Account, the Benevolent Fund Account, the Provident Benefit Fund, the Central Fund, the Balance Sheet, the Cash Flow Statement and related notes. The financial reporting framework that has been applied in their preparation is applicable law and United Kingdom Accounting Standards (United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice). This report is made solely to the Union’s members as a body, in accordance with Section 36 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidated) Act 19992. Our audit work has been undertaken so that we might state to the Union’s members those matters we are required to state in an auditor’s report and for no other purpose. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we do not accept or assume responsibility to anyone other than the Union and the Union’s members as a body, for our audit work, for this report, or for the opinions we have formed.

Respective responsibilities of Executive Committee and Auditors AS EXPLAINED more fully in Executive Committee’s report, the Executive Committee are responsible for the preparation of the financial statements and for being satisfied that they give a true and fair view. Our responsibility is to audit and express a view on the financial statements in accordance with applicable law and international Standards on Auditing (UK and Ireland). Those standards require us to comply with the Auditing Practices Boar’s Ethical Standards for Auditors.

Scope of the audit of the financial statements AN AUDIT involves obtaining evidence about the amounts and disclosures in the financial statements sufficient to give reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free from material misstatement, whether caused by fraud or error. This includes an assessment of whether the accounting policies are appropriate to the Union’s circumstances and have been consistently applied and adequately disclosed; the reasonableness of significant accounting estimates made by the Executive Committee; and the overall presentation of the financial statements. In addition we read all the financial and non-financial information in the Executive Committee’s report to identify material inconsistencies with the audited financial statements. If we become aware of any apparent material misstatements or inconsistencies we consider the implication for our report.

Opinion on financial statements In our opinion the financial statements l give a true and fair view of the state of the Union’s affairs as at 31st December 2011 and of its results for the year then end l have been properly prepared in accordance with United Kingdom Generally Accepted Accounting Practice and l the financial statements have been properly prepared in accordance with Trade Union Law;

Matters on which we are required to report by exception We have nothing to report in respect of the following matters where the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidated) Act 1992 requires us to report to you if, in our opinions l the Union has not kept proper accounting records in accordance with Section 28 of the Act and l whether the Union has not maintained a satisfactory system of control over its transactions in accordance with that section and l whether the accounts to which the report relate do not agree with the accounting records Sayer Vincent Chartered Accountants and Registered Auditors 8 Angel Gate, City Road, London EC1V 2SJ 20 April 2012

STATEMENT A MEMBER who is concerned that some irregularity may be occurring, or have occurred, in the conduct of the financial affairs of the union may take steps with a view to investigating further, obtaining clarification and, if necessary, securing regularisation of that conduct. The member may raise any such concern with such one or more of the following as it seems appropriate to raise it with: the officials of the union, the trustees of the property of the union, the auditor or auditors of the union, the Certification Officer (who is an independent officer appointed by the Secretary of State) and the police. Where a member believes that the financial affairs of the union have been or are being conducted in breach of the law or in breach of rules of the union and contemplates bringing civil proceedings against the union or responsible officials or trustees, he should consider obtaining independent legal advice.


November 2012


Double presentation at Wessex Branch

Gold medal for John Bowen MANUEL CORTES PRESENTED a TSSA Gold Medallion to John Bowen in Cork on 18 October. John has been a TSSA member for 42 years and has been a very active member at all levels of the Association. He has been: a local rep, branch officer and a member of the Irish Divisional Council, Irish Committee and Executive Committee. John was a regular at many TSSA conferences and continues to attend as a retired member. As well as his commitment to the trade union movement, he has also been very active in local and international social justice campaigns.

John Walsh (left) was awarded Honorary Life Membership whilst Roger Lock (right) was presented with a Silver Medallion at the Southampton meeting of TSSA’s Wessex Branch on 17 September.


Notes on the financial statement EACH YEAR THE Association is obliged to publish a summary of its annual income and expenditure. Under the relevant legislation this summary income has to include staff pension scheme income as well as profits on sales of investments. The expenditure summary has to include all staff pension scheme costs, despite the fact that the staff pension scheme solely exists to provide pensions for Association staff. The Association cannot use the staff pension scheme funds to pay for its own activities. In 2010 the Association changed its Investment Managers and sold its old portfolio of unit trusts, stocks and shares and bought pooled funds. The profit from those sales was included in the published income figure of £12,186,252, but this figure is an artificial one as the income from the sale was then reinvested in other investments. The expenditure for 2011 shows a major increase of £1,916,000 to represent the cost of the Association’s staff pension scheme.

Monday 19 November 2012, 5.30–8.30pm      766$RIÀFH1XQQHU\/DQH York, YO23 1AH Snacks and drinks will be provided. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this 2008        ÀOPVKRZVWKHVWRU\RI+DUYH\0LON        DQGKLVVWUXJJOHVDVDQ$PHULFDQ/*%7       ULJKWVDFWLYLVWZKRFDPSDLJQHGLQ6DQ Francisco to build alliances and organise      ORFDOFRPPXQLWLHV²DQGEHFDPH      &DOLIRUQLD¡VÀUVWRSHQO\JD\HOHFWHG RIÀFLDO


TSSA Journal


TSSA personal injury service

“I was so relieved that TSSA could help me after my accident.” Sophie had been shopping at a leading supermarket chain when she was brutally injured. “I had been walking down the aisle, pushing my trolley and browsing the shelves. The next thing I knew, I was knocked over and had the most awful pain in my neck and shoulders.” Sophie had been struck by a crate that a staff member was using. The force of the blow had pushed her against the shelving and she suffered a wrenching injury to her neck, shoulders and arm. “It’s just not the sort of thing you expect to happen, but clearly it does happen quite often. The month after my accident, I remember reading in the local paper that another woman had been struck by a slab of baked bean tins, full in the face.” Sophie, a controller and longstanding member of TSSA, decided to call TSSA’s injury helpline. “It’s run by Morrish Solicitors, who I’d used before when I sold my flat to move to London.

CC BY-NC-ND2 eatmorechips

Member’s husband gets legal support

Because I’d used the firm before, I was comfortable with the idea of them bringing my injury claim. If I’d had to call one of the ads from the TV, I don’t know if I’d have seen it through. John at Morrish was excellent, and a real professional.” Independent medical evidence from a Consultant Orthopaedic surgeon confirmed Sophie’s injuries and John

contacted the supermarket chain. “At first they tried to say they weren’t at fault, which was quite an eyeopener for me, I can tell you. At the time it happened, the accident had been reported in their accident book, so they knew it had taken place and they had the description on record. John was able to get them to admit liability and from

there on it was quite straightforward.” The supermarket chain agreed to pay Sophie for her injuries and related financial losses. “Their initial offer was quite low, a couple of thousand I think. John advised I turn it down it because it did not take into consideration the amount of time I had to take off work for my injury. Using the medical

report, John was able to get me an offer of £7,050 which I accepted. I am so very grateful to TSSA and John at Morrish for all of the excellent help.” l Based on a real life case. Certain details have been altered to protect the identity of the victim. Morrish Solicitors is a Limited Liability Partnership and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Accidents do not happen - they are caused! As a member of the TSSA, should either you or your immediate family suffer injury through someone else’s negligence, you will be entitled to FREE legal advice and representation from our specialist personal injury lawyers Morrish Solicitors LLP. No money will be deducted from any compensation recovered and no charge will be made to you or your family for the advice and representation you receive. If you’d like to find out more, call us today and we will look after you. ACCIDENTS AT WORK


November 2012



TSSA Personal Injury Services Free to Members & their families

0800 093 0353




hel pdesk If you have a question about your workplace rights, call our employment law specialists on 0800 3282673 in the UK or 1800 805272 in the Republic of Ireland or email Hours: Monday to Thursday 8am–6pm Friday 8am–5pm

Forced to be ‘sick’ when ready for work company to take up a new job, only to be told the day I started that they were moving it to a new location. The company refuses to let me commute as they say it is too far, and I am unable to move because of school commitments. The new company must have known about the move but chose not to tell me at the interview. Is there anything I can do?

A. If your doctor says you are fit to

A. As the work has moved, technically you are redundant, but with less than two years service you are not entitled to redundancy pay. However, you should be offered a suitable alternative where possible. The argument is over what is suitable. You consider the job in the new location suitable, despite the increased travelling time, the employer doesn’t. This is the exact opposite of what usually happens, whereby an employer tries to get out of paying redundancy by claiming any old job is a suitable alternative. Unless there is a clause in your contract saying you must live within a certain distance of where you work then I don’t see how they can impose a limit on your commuting time. It also begs the question of what happens if somebody already working there and living nearby decides to move to a location two hours away. Will they be dismissed? However, that is not your immediate problem, which is that as you started after 1 April this year, you

Republic of Ireland

work then you should tell your employer which day you intend to return. If they say you can’t for whatever reason that is up to them, but as you are not sick (as you no longer have a fit note), and you are ready and willing to work then your employer will have to pay you. If that means you remain suspended then so be it. If they try to force you to get a further note from your doctor you should refuse, as you are not sick, and your GP should not be issuing fit notes if they don’t think you are sick. As you weren’t allowed to resume, but you didn’t get a further note, you should submit a grievance on the grounds of unlawful deduction of wages. Had your GP given you another note you would not have been entitled to payment. If you couldn’t take your statutory leave because of sickness they cannot take it off you, they must let you carry it forward. The European Court of Justice, which has ruled on this, does not seem to differentiate between statutory and contractual leave, but how your contractual leave (all your leave over and above the statutory leave) is dealt with will depend on your contract. You would have to check it to see whether they will let you carry it forward or whether you can be paid in lieu.

cannot take any breach of contract claim to an employment tribunal for two years. You should still submit a grievance over the way you have been treated, and aim to get them to acknowledge that you have been treated appallingly and waive their petty restriction, or at least allow you to travel for a reasonable time until a suitable position comes up. The answer to your question is there is probably nothing you can do other than the grievance. It may be possible to pursue a claim that the imposition of a travel limit is a breach of contract through a civil court, but further legal advice would be necessary on that.

0800 3282673/1800 805272

Q. I resigned from my old

after a back operation, but when I told my manager I was ready to return he said I couldn’t until I had seen their company doctor. It took a month to get that appointment and all the time I was receiving no pay. He also said the 18 days leave I couldn’t take last year had been cancelled.


Q. I was off sick for nearly a year

TSSA Journal


letters This is your chance to share your views with thousands of other TSSA members. The deadline for the next issue is 10 December. Letters may be edited for length or clarity. Email or write to TSSA Journal, Walkden House, 10 Melton Street, London, NW1 2EJ.

letters 32

See you on the march! Thank you and congratulations for the excellent September edition of the TSSA Journal. I particularly liked the in-depth articles by Manuel Cortes, Christian Wolmar and the unattributed piece ‘The simple case for investment not cuts’ which put the points across in a clear and concise way. I now much better understand that there are alternative economic policies to austerity, the benefits of large capital investment and am also encouraged to join the march (again!) in October. Carl Osborne TfL Central branch

Measure more than growth I agree with Manuel Cortes that we desperately need a change of direction in economic policy. But I disagree with him that growth in national wealth (GDP) is the answer. I would far prefer to use the current crises to question the very basis of our capitalist, growthobsessed economic system. We are still consuming (and wasting), eating, driving and flying too much for our own good or that of the planet. We should be championing a new economic system which delivers what people need

November 2012

and not what they are told they want. We should stop relying on the growth of GDP as our only measure of success. The time seems ideal to campaign for the creation of new indices such as Gross Social Product which would reflect crime levels, income inequality, prison population, doctors per head of population etc. Gross Environmental Product would measure such things as CO2 emissions, air travel vs train vs car travel and water quality. All three measures would be released at the same time to show the trade offs between economic growth, social health and environmental sustainability. So instead of marching for simply more of the same, I would prefer my union to lead a march that has a goal of changing our basic assumptions about what our economy is to provide to society. Jon Burden Network Rail North London branch

Dismissals are usually made for good reasons I disagree with much of your article on Virgin Trains. I am no fan of Richard Branson himself but, as a frequent user of the Virgin service, my perception is that it has improved enormously over the last ten years or so.

I see you highlight a single incident where a Virgin employee fell foul of management and feels aggrieved. You condemn the whole company for that. My guess is that this is six of one and half a dozen of the other – dismissals are usually made for good reasons. Anyway, he is just one of thousands of employees and, from what I see on the Virgin trains, most of them seem to be happy in their work. I have a feeling that TSSA just has not moved on from the ‘good old days’ of British Rail, for whom, I worked for almost 30 years. BR was spending taxpayers cash and treating it as Monopoly money – it was a disgrace and bad for taxpayers. The cost of rail travel should fall on passengers and not the taxpayer. What is the point of Government subsidising rail travel? Ron Havenhand Superannuated member

Editor’s reply: I doubt the many members who have internal appeals and employment tribunals finding in their favour would benefit much from their union having a starting point that ‘dismissals are usually made for good reasons’. When employers fall short of their legal obligations, we are unambiguously on the side of members.

Costs going up? Every year at TSSA’s Annual Conference before we take a vote on an increase in subs we're told how membership numbers of our union are seriously dwindling. We’re also being warned on different occasions about upcoming heavy job losses in our industry as a result of government cuts which could mean further reduction of our membership. Finding out that four assistant general secretaries have been appointed, I can see we’re fast moving to become a union with the top-heavy management structure that we slate our own companies for having. Before you know it TSSA will have more management than members. Sharon Simmonds Underground Infrastructure branch

Editor’s reply: The new staff structure has replaced several posts which were on the same pay grade as assistant general secretary (such as heads of departments) with four posts which now have a consistent title. Other posts have been deleted resulting in anticipated savings of around £100,000 a year.

TSSA Journal November 2012  
TSSA Journal November 2012  

The Journal of the TSSA transport and travel union for November 2012.