GMB Dispute at TSSA: First Day of ACAS Talks Unproductive

On Monday (27 October) the GMB representatives of TSSA staff met the General Secretary and President of TSSA at ACAS for conciliation talks. GMB was there in a positive attempt to resolve the dispute over placing staff in a new organisation structure. Sadly, it did not seem that TSSA Management were there for the same reason.

Since the solid strike on 8 October, and the resulting agreement from TSSA Management to go to ACAS, GMB members at TSSA felt it was right to allow the dust to settle and Management to consider their position and the damage their refusal to move was doing to the union as a whole, with TSSA membership tumbling over the past few months.

Sadly Management have not behaved with the same decency, with a campaign of intimidation of GMB members working at TSSA being stepped up since the strike.

Despite this, GMB reps approached the ACAS talks positively and the talks lasted all day. A compromise position was tabled by the GMB side. It was rejected by management on the basis that it did not allow them to “assess” current staff for jobs in the new organisation despite dealing with their supposed concerns about training and development. Over six hours of talks TSSA Management did not put forward a single proposal to attempt to resolve the dispute. We were left with the impression that the GS and the President were unclear about what they were actually seeking from the ACAS process.

One thing the Management side were clear on was that they want the right to put individuals through assessments and judge whether current staff are “good enough” to carry out the jobs they already do. This is not acceptable to the GMB.  TSSA Management absolutely failed to deal with legitimate concerns from GMB about our members being victimised by management and scapegoated for the failings of the union leadership. It is perfectly clear that a re-organisation that started nearly a year ago with the explicit aim of reducing the staffing budget, has now become an exercise in retribution against a collectively strong staff, despite the financial aims of the re-organisation having been met.

After a very unproductive day GMB reps were surprised when ACAS advised us that TSSA Management believed there had been some progress and wanted further talks! We remain open to a negotiated solution and further dates are being explored, but the peace that TSSA Management have enjoyed since the strike, as we waited to see if they would come to their senses, is over.

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