Why are we on strike on 26 March?
Last November, shortly after the collapse of merger talks with Unite, TSSA Management announced a radical re-organisation of the staff structure of the union which proposed to cut jobs by over 35%!
These proposals involved the outsourcing of our member’s helpdesk, the bulk of our finance department, despatch (post and print department) and our reps’ education programme. These massive job cuts fell almost entirely in the administrative grades, leaving senior management virtually untouched. GMB members were outraged by these proposals and that those responsible for the complete failure to control the costs of the organisation over several years were protecting themselves, while admin and frontline organising staff were being cut!
In January the GMB conducted a ballot for industrial action which resulted in an overwhelming mandate for strike action – a 92% yes vote on a 91% turnout.
Yet since that result TSSA Management have spent no time at all in consultation with staff reps about the concerns that led to our members sending such a clear message!
As a result of the ballot an agreement was made to allow GMB to construct a counter proposal and submit it to TSSA Management. Our members spent five weeks exploring ideas for an alternative that would reduce costs, save money and give the TSSA a structure that would protect its ability to organise and represent transport workers. A thoroughly consulted counter proposal which involved no outsourcing, reduced proposed job losses by over 40% and was still within the staffing budget that management had set, was backed by our members and submitted to TSSA Management.
Two days before this submission was due the General Secretary declared consultation was over.
We have had no choice but to call a day’s strike action.
Our members have also been shocked at TSSA Management’s willingness to use anti-trade union laws and union busting tactics to try and frustrate our members’ legitimate action, including:
- Sending threatening solicitors letters citing alleged irregularities in ballot notifications, in an attempt to get GMB to withdraw the ballot
- Asking staff to declare in writing that they are “not on strike” if they have booked leave on our strike day in order to publicise alleged scabbing.
- Instructing staff to detail the impact of their strike action to enable Management (who are also GMB members) to strike-break against their own union
- Cancelling facilities for union meetings with a just a few hours’ notice in an effort to prevent us from finalising our counter-proposal
What sort of Trade Union leadership uses these tactics instead of sitting down to resolve the deeply held concerns of the staff?
GMB members at TSSA have many decades of frontline trade union organising experience between them, and some of the worst employers we deal with behave better than this. GMB members of staff at TSSA are committed to our members in the transport and travel industries. It has been a difficult and painful decision to take strike action against a Trade Union employer, but we cannot allow our GMB members jobs to be cut and outsourced, and the future of the union to be threatened by the ill-prepared and short-termist proposals of TSSA Management.
At this time we only have one demand – the General Secretary must re-enter talks with the staff reps so we can bring the union back together and reach a negotiated solution.
What can you do to help?
Send a message of support to striking GMB members at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit our picket line from 9.00 on 26 March 2014 outside TSSA’s Head Office, Walkden House, 10 Melton Street NW1 2EJ
Please share this post through your own networks!