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Exclusive: TSSA conference – delegates, members barred, no-conf motion blocked

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/06/2024 - 3:36am in

Around half of delegates barred, members prevented from online attendance and no-confidence motion tabled for vote blocked – but reps vote no confidence and ‘silenced’ staff say they will all ‘down tools’ if further staff are targeted

Members and workers were further outraged at the opening day of the TSSA’s annual delegate conference (ADC) in Cardiff yesterday, after around half of delegates due to attend the conference were blocked from admittance ahead of a tabled vote of no confidence in general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust – and the lay rep leafleting about the motion was directed to the union’s lawyers when he refused to hand over his leaflets.

The conference is usually attended by around eighty delegates, plus many of the union’s staff – and attended online by union members. However, Skwawkbox understands that around forty-four delegates, half or more, were refused entry because of supposed issues with their registration:

In addition, members were refused access to the online feed – along with some who gained access but were ejected. Delegates tried to force a vote anyway, but managed only around fifty percent in favour instead of the required two thirds.

TSSA staff have been the subject of smears sent by the union to member branches accusing them of being greedy and unreasonable, and have also faced attempts by Eslamdoust to bypass them and negotiate their dispute directly with the GMB union’s general secretary. The staff, who are represented at work by the GMB but it is the workers who are in dispute, not the other union, wrote last week to TSSA members to express their issues with their general secretary’s conduct:

URGENT LETTER FROM TSSA STAFF
PLEASE READ
CALLING ALL BRANCHES/MEMBERS OF TSSA

We write to address a matter of utmost concern regarding our General Secretary. We are writing to you as we have been silenced by the leadership of TSSA and have been banned from talking to TSSA members about the problems at TSSA. All TSSA staff have been told “internal staffing and organisational matters are confidential and should not be discussed with the lay membership.”

At the 2023 TSSA conference, staff were given the opportunity to address the conference in the light of the publication of the Kennedy and Conley reports. We have requested the President and the General Secretary allow staff to address this conference. We ask what the Leadership of TSSA is trying to hide if they prevent staff addressing conference this year?

TSSA staff are fully committed to the sweeping culture change called for in the Kennedy and Conley reports published in February 2023. Culture change is imperative if TSSA is to succeed and survive as an independent trade union. It needs to be highly prioritised work.

TSSA staff remain fully committed to this work.

Unfortunately, the General Secretary has shown no commitment to culture change at TSSA. There has been no progress in implementing the recommendations from both reports. In fact, culture change has regressed under this leadership. For example, there is still no Sexual Harassment policy at TSSA, even though this was a key recommendation from the Kennedy report 16 months ago. A new policy was agreed in October 2023, just before the General Secretary took office, but it has still not been ratified, over seven months later.

In addition, there have been multiple instances of bullying of staff/TU staff reps within the TSSA, with the General Secretary being the primary perpetrator. This behaviour not only undermines the principles of unity and solidarity that our union stands for, but also has a detrimental impact on the well-being of members and staff.

One of the most distressing consequences of this situation is the increasing number of staff members off sick due to stress and bullying. This not only negatively impacts the individuals concerned but significantly hampers the overall effectiveness of our union to deliver for members.

Furthermore, it is increasingly clear that the General Secretary lacks an understanding of the transport industry and its unique challenges. This lack of understanding has resulted in poor decision-making, wasting money (your membership fees), and a failure to effectively address the needs and concerns of our members.

The General Secretary has created an environment of fear and hypervigilance. She has taken unjustified actions such as suspending/demoting long-term staff and TSSA members without legitimate justification. This is leading to staff leaving the TSSA. In addition, three Executive Committee members feeling unheard, felt compelled to step down.

This has led to the staff at TSSA voting 93% in favour of strike action. You know that no workers vote for strike action unless they feel they have no alternative. Even more so staff working tor a trade union. This is how TSSA staff now feel.

As well as refusing to engage with staff representatives, the General Secretary tells lies in communications, claiming that she doesn’t know what the dispute is about, makes false claims that the staff reps won’t meet with her (there have been many meetings and correspondence regarding the dispute).

The General Secretary then made numerous false allegations in the Guardian newspaper, alleging a conspiracy that the GMB are trying to take over the TSSA.

It is insulting and demeaning to the staff that have been bullied by the General Secretary to claim that they are just making it up.

The General Secretary continues to make false allegations, including that the GMB want to take control of TSSA recruitment procedures and policies. These are lies to deflect from the very real and legitimate issues regarding her leadership that staff have. The TSSA General Secretary is blocking reforms demanded by the Kennedy report, not the GMB.

Furthermore, it is shocking to see your General Secretary crossing a picket line at Devonshire Square on the day of the staff strike on 30 April.

The current situation has left TSSA members and staff without a voice. Meaningful Collective Bargaining with TSSA staff no longer exists. The General Secretary frequently does not attend Collective Bargaining meetings, cancels meetings at the last minute, and is refusing to meet TSSA staff representatives at ACAS for further dispute resolution talks unless staff call off strikes. A well-known anti-union employer tactic.

A sincere employer accepting their unionised staff’s legitimate trade dispute would stop at nothing to genuinely engage to resolve the dispute. Instead, this employer uses anti-union tactics and misrepresentation on a level beyond the worst employers we deal with.

We genuinely fear that if Maryam Eslamdoust continues in her role, the union will be driven by a culture of bullying, power hoarding, epic incompetence, and a total disregard for trade union values.

In light of these grave concerns, we implore you to strongly consider voting no confidence in the current General Secretary at the 2024 TSSA conference. It is crucial that we take a united stand against bullying and ensure that our union is led by someone who genuinely understands and advocates for the welfare of TSSA members & staff; A General Secretary who shows a genuine commitment to sweeping culture change and the implementation of all the recommendations from the Kennedy and Conley reports.

We understand that this decision carries significant weight. Together, we can create an inclusive and supportive environment that upholds the trade union values we hold dear and protects the well-being of all our members and staff.

We sincerely hope that we can count on your support in voting for a motion of no confidence in this General Secretary.

In solidarity,
TSSA Staff (GMB Union Members)

(Emphases added by Skwawkbox)

Also last week, the Network Rail National Committee of TSSA reps at the rail employer – representing around a third of TSSA’s total membership – voted no confidence in Eslamdoust and union president Melissa Heywood:

Statement from TSSA Lay representatives on Network RaiI National Committee

Debated at National Committee meeting on Thursday 30th May

Emailed for continued debate, comment amendment on Thursday 30 May
Majority support confirmed from more than half of the 20 members by 31st May

TSSA had been through the massive challenge of removing the previous senior management team, including our General Secretary following an investigation and report by QC Helena Kennedy. There was a remarkable and positive consensus across the union to achieve these goals.

We have gone through the election process for a new General Secretary, with Maryam being successful in that election, being endorsed by the Executive Committee. At that point Maryam had the overwhelming support of our union employees and members, with the hope that we had every prospect of a positive leadership that would have learned from our previous conflicts.

Within weeks, internal conflicts started to emerge, with one member EC member leaving as he found the environment to be intolerable. The derecognition of Women in Focus was illegitimate and unnecessary.

Disputes between TSSA staff and the senior management team soon emerged, with complaints about non-compliance with agreements, accusations and counter accusations of bullying, with TSSA staff now having taken industrial action, referencing “a culture of bullying, harassment and victimisation”. There appears to be no plan to resolve this dispute which looks likely to escalate
unless there is a change to TSSA leadership approach to this dispute.

The communications from our GeneraI Secretary to the employees appear to have inflamed rather than attempted to resolve this conflict. The article in the Guardian, in which the dispute is claimed by Maryam to be a takeover attempt by the GMB, can have done nothing but harm to our union and the GMB, and appears to have no basis in reality.

Subsequently there was evidence that our President liked a social media post that called for the derecognition of the GMB, which represents our employees in TSSA. There now appears to an extension of this conflict with the Executive Committee apparently agreeing this week to the suspension of three TSSA members who have been critical of the leadership.

That this Committee has no confidence in the leadership of the General Secretary and President in the management of internal conflicts that exist in our union and have been created since the election of our General Secretary.

This Committee has more confidence in our TSSA staff who are currently in dispute. Should our TSSA staff who are represented by the GMB decide they have no option but take further industrial action, we will support them in this action.

Note no full time officers have at any stage proposed or have at any stage been part of any of this debate or outcome.

Motion published by former TSSA assistant general secretary Steve Coe to his Facebook feed

TSSA at Network Rail London South had already voted no confidence in April. Staff voted unanimously last month that if any further staff are attacked or suspended by Eslamdoust or her allies, they will ‘down tools’ completely. An escalating programme of strikes is underway this month.

The conference continues today and tomorrow.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Exclusive: TSSA staff vote unanimously for strike escalation over abuse and bullying

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 31/05/2024 - 12:14am in

Staff working for the TSSA rail union have voted unanimously in favour of escalating their strike against the union – increasing the number of days per week by one a week, starting from next week until they are completely on strike during the week of the general election.

The agreed strike dates are

4 June
12 and 13 June
18, 19 and 20 June
25, 26, 27 and 28 June
1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 July

The workers are taking action against what they say is a continuation, under new general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust, of the bullying, abuse and intimidation that was exposed under former general secretary Manuel Cortes. Staff unanimously voted no confidence in Eslamdoust last month and have criticised what they say is a smear campaign mounted by the union’s management against them, extending even to communications to union members attacking staff and attempts to bypass striking workers to negotiate directly with the head of the GMB union that represents them at work.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Graham shredded after flip-flopping on Starmer’s Labour in just 3 days

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 26/05/2024 - 3:59am in

On Wednesday, Labour was the change the country needed, now she’s attacking holes in workers’ ‘new deal’ she said was good only last week – cosying with Starmer exposed again

Sharon Graham has been derided on social media after a feeble flip-flop on Keir Starmer’s red-Tory politics – which she put out a video praising only last week and followed up by claiming Labour could be the ‘real change’ the UK needs.

Last week, Graham told LBC that she was ‘really really pleased’ with Starmer’s plan for working people – despite widespread reporting of his intention to water down the ‘new deal’ to please businesses and billionaires.

On Wednesday, when Tory PM Rishi Sunak called a general election, Graham tweeted – and was correctly lambasted for in hundreds of responses criticising her for spouting support for a party led by Keir Starmer, who has broken every campaign promise he made to get into the leadership and is indistinguishable from the blue version of the Tories apart from his rosette:

But this morning, perhaps attempting to regain some self-destroyed credibility, she claimed to have suddenly realised that the plan she had just been ‘really really pleased’ with had ‘more holes in it than Swiss cheese’ – yet still acted as if Starmer might somehow stop licking the backside of elites and fight for ordinary people:

The response was, predictably, almost uniformly blisteringly negative. A selection is shown below:

Graham has long been criticised for her cosiness with Keir Starmer, her willingness to accommodate his wishes despite his broken promises and his betrayal of workers – and the war she has waged, seemingly on his behalf, on those showing solidarity with those murdered, maimed or smeared by Israel.

Graham and her team have been accused of banning films combating racism and revealing the sabotage of the party and its members by Keir Starmer from the union’s buildings, along with a book exposing the Labour right’s collusion with the Israel lobby against supporters of Palestinian human rights.

One of her team allegedly threatened a soon-to-retire regional official with the loss of his pension bonus if he did not cool his support for the people of Palestine against Israel’s genocide, while Graham herself has been alleged by Unite insiders to have:

Her tenure as Unite boss has also been marked by a string of other allegations – which neither she nor the union has denied – including destruction of evidence against her husband in threat, misogyny and bullying complaints brought by union employees. She is also embroiled in both an employment tribunal for discrimination and a defamation lawsuit brought by Irish union legend Brendan Ogle for the union’s treatment of him and comments made about him by Graham and her close ally Tony Woodhouse.

She has also been accused by Unite’s national officers’ group of showing contempt for the union staff’s collective agreements, taking an anti-trade union stance and attempting to use legal action to intimidate staff with grievances. Graham has suffered an unopposed vote of no confidence by at least one significant union branch over her conduct – and is spending a huge amount of members’ money on expensive lawyers to try to defeat Brendan Ogle’s legal actions against her and her allies.

And Unite’s key ‘Finance and General Purpose Committee’ of elected executive representatives walked out en masse last week in disgust at Graham’s behaviour toward union democracy and staff, saying they will initiate legal action through a complaint to the union Certification Officer.

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Exclusive: key Unite committee walks out, says will start legal action against union

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/05/2024 - 11:27pm in

Elected representatives walk out accusing Sharon Graham of stifling democracy and destroying the union, with Unite’s employed officers on the verge of industrial action against the union

Protesters holding a demo outside a meeting of Unite’s executive committee in March. Insert: general secretary Sharon Graham

In dramatic news that will further hit the management of the Unite union, which has been blighted by complaints of abuse, destruction of evidence and the betrayal of the oppressed people of Gaza despite the union’s democratic position in full support of them, members of a key Unite committee have today walked out and have said they are initiating legal action against the union over general secretary Sharon Graham’s ‘stifling’ of its democracy and what they say is her destruction of the union.

In a statement issued after the walk-out, the members of the ‘Finance and General Purpose Committee‘ of elected executive representatives, explained their action:

Today the members of the Unite Finance and General Purposes Committee (F&GPC), the most important committee of the Unite Executive Council, took the unprecedented step of walking out of the meeting and will be commencing legal action with the Certification Officer.

As members of the F&GPC we have not taken this decision lightly, but we are determined not to let our union’s democracy be subverted by a Chair who has lost the confidence of the committee and a General Secretary who is determined to stifle democratic decision making.

The background to this decision is the refusal of the Chair and General Secretary to allow representatives of Unite’s Officers committee to address the meeting and explain why they are on the verge of balloting for industrial action.

At the previous meeting the members of the F&GPC were told by Unite Executive Head of Operations, Sarah Carpenter, that there was no unrest at all with the officers and no issues to be addressed.

But this flies totally in the face of the letter that all F&GPC members received this week in which the Officers National Committee asked to urgently meet and address the F&GPC, in order to discuss matters with a view to resolving major problems before moving towards industrial action.

Under rule, the ultimate employer of Unite officers and staff is the Unite Executive Council, and as members of the key subcommittee of the Executive Council, we take that responsibility very seriously. The idea that officers of Unite are so angry and frustrated as to want to take industrial action is totally unprecedented and is a situation that warrants immediate attention.

For the Chair and General Secretary to use every possible bureaucratic means to prevent that discussion is an insult to the F&GPC, an insult to the wider Executive Council, and most of all an insult to our members who need their officers motivated and working hard to protect their jobs, pay and conditions.

Our decision comes on the back of months of the F&GPC’s growing concern about poor management of the organisation and deep concern about financial reporting and accountability. We also thoroughly object to the General Secretary using threats against members of the wider EC when raising and challenging her handling of our money.

As members of the Unite F&GPC we will not stand idly by and allow the Chair and General Secretary to destroy our great union. We will be considering commencing legal action with the Certification Officer before any more damage is done and will be calling on the Unite EC and all Unite members and activists to help restore the democratic control and accountability of our union.

Graham’s tenure at Unite has also been marked by a string of other serious allegations, which neither she nor the union has ever denied – of abuse, cover-up and failure to protect women:

In addition, she has been exposed behind the union’s decision to ban showings in Unite’s buildings of a film exposing racism, smears, rigging and abuse by the Labour right and has appeared to grow increasingly cosy with red-Tory Labour ‘leader’ Keir Starmer, despite Starmer’s lies, his contempt for democracy, his u-turns on promises to Unite members and his regime’s repeated blocking of Unite-backed parliamentary candidates.

Unite has been contacted for comment.

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TSSA union staff strike to go ahead this week after reps accuse Eslamdoust of bad faith

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/04/2024 - 9:10am in

The first planned strike day by staff working for the TSSA union will go ahead on Tuesday after mediation talks turned to farce, with the staff’s GMB union reps accusing TSSA general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust of approaching the talks without good faith and of failing to engage with staff’s concerns.

Staff are striking over what they say is renewed abuse and bullying – Eslamdoust’s predecessor as general secretary was sacked after a huge scandal of bullying and sexual harassment by senior management, and workers say the situation, which Eslamdoust was supposed to fix, has deteriorated again. Now an update from the workers’ union reps updates them of the failure of the talks:

Eslamdoust, who was recommended to members by the union’s executive despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience, wrote a bizarre article for the Guardian in which she accused the GMB union of attempting to bully her so it could take over the TSSA and distract from its own renewed sexual harassment scandal, and tried to blame others for her failure to take meaningful action to implement the Kennedy Report’s recommendations.

She then followed up her attack on the GMB by emailing all TSSA member branches with an astonishing assault branding the union’s workers as greedy and lazy, and treating the GMB union as if it, and not the unhappiness of TSSA staff, was the driver of the impending strike action for which more than 93% of staff voted last week.

Such is the anger among members at the situation that earlier this month the TSSA’s branch for members working in Network Rail in South London passed a unanimous motion of no confidence in Eslamdoust and the union’s president Melissa Heywood.

GMB reps among TSSA staff have accused Eslamdoust and her team of not informing them that they had approached ACAS, and of bypassing them to try to negotiate the dispute with GMB general secretary Gary Smith instead of engaging with workers and their representatives.

The workers’ first strikes will take place this week on Tuesday 30 April and then on 4 June, including pickets of TSSA offices.

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Support for Canadian Graduate Students on Strike

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/04/2024 - 11:13pm in

Tags 

strike

A Canadian graduate student in philosophy writes in about how graduate students at several institutions are “on strike for a substantive money raise because our funding is incredibly low.”

You can read about the strike at Western University here and here.

The graduate student continues:

Several Canadian universities, including McGill University, York University, and the University of Western Ontario (Western University), are currently experiencing strikes as graduate students advocate for a living wage. The funding packages offered by these universities are insufficient for graduate students to meet their minimal living expenses.

 York University offers a funding package of around 24,000 Canadian dollars (17,200 US dollars), while McGill University provides between 20,000 and 27,000 Canadian dollars (14,000 and 19,400 US dollars). Western University offers approximately 15,000 Canadian dollars (11,000 US dollars) per year, after accounting for tuition fees (Western University does not provide a tuition waiver for PhD students).

Graduate students at the University of Toronto, which is not on strike this year, receive over 27,000 Canadian dollars annually. Despite this, the high cost of living in cities like Toronto and Montreal makes it impossible for students to survive on these funding packages.

Due to the financial strain, many PhD students are compelled to take on part-time jobs, seek financial support from their families, or even take out loans to complete their degrees. These challenges no doubt affect their academic performance and overall well-being.

Students and others at the affected institutions are invited to provide further information and share their thoughts.

 

The post Support for Canadian Graduate Students on Strike first appeared on Daily Nous.

Exclusive: Eslamdoust’s bizarre email to TSSA branches attacking staff and their union

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/04/2024 - 11:45pm in

‘She doesn’t understand how unions work’ – general secretary of union reeling from abuse scandals sends bulk email to branches attacking staff striking over bullying, and the union representing them

Melissa Heywood, left, and Maryam Eslamdoust (image: TSSA website)

Crisis-hit TSSA rail union general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust and her team have followed up their attacks on the GMB union representing TSSA staff in their dispute with the union’s management over bullying and abuse – by emailing all TSSA member branches with an astonishing attack branding the union’s workers as greedy and lazy, and treating the GMB union as if it, and not the unhappiness of TSSA staff, is the driver of the impending strike action for which more than 93% of staff voted last week.

Ms Eslamdoust was recommended to members, despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience, by the TSSA executive after former general secretary Manuel Cortes was sacked over sexual harassment and bullying exposed in the Kennedy Report, and was supposedly going to clean up the union after the scandal. However, the union has been rocked by fresh allegations of abuse and deep resentment against the new general secretary for the treatment of staff, particularly women.

She recently wrote a bizarre article for the Guardian in which she accused the GMB union of attempting to bully her so it could take over the TSSA and distract from its own renewed sexual harassment scandal, and tried to blame others for her failure to take meaningful action to implement the Kennedy Report’s recommendations, outraging staff members who have pointed out that their dispute pre-dates the new GMB revelations, prompting TSSA staff to pass a unanimous vote of no confidence in Eslamdoust and the union’s president, Melissa Heywood.

Now the pair, along with assistant general secretary Brian Brock, have sent this bizarre message to all the union’s members, via their branches:

Message from TSSA General Secretary

To: Branches

Dear colleagues,

Some of you will have heard that GMB intends to take industrial action against TSSA.

GMB’s dispute with TSSA

TSSA regrets GMB’s decision and wants to resolve the dispute. Thus far GMB have made it impossible to resolve any genuine issues that TSSA staff may have by refusing to set out any specific details of the matters they say are in dispute.

GMB have also refused or ignored every proposal we have made for talks. TSSA have proposed direct talks to resolve the dispute with GMB’s General Secretary, GMB’s Regional Secretary, GMB’s Regional Officials, and GMB’s lay reps among our own staff – all of which proposals have been refused or ignored. TSSA has therefore asked ACAS to facilitate talks, but again GMB have not yet responded to ACAS’ approach for talks.

Nevertheless, TSSA is a good employer, and we will continue to seek resolution with GMB in good faith, just as we have done in all our relations.

There are limits to how far we will go to satisfy demands made to us, and red lines that simply cannot be crossed.

We are seeking to reform and improve TSSA in the wake of failings in our past culture that were identified in the Kennedy and Conley reports.

An example of this is that TSSA proposed to the GMB representatives among our own staff that we would have independent observers in staff recruitment processes, so that everyone could have confidence in the fairness of those processes. Instead of accepting this measure, GMB demanded that there must be 2 GMB appointees involved in every TSSA recruitment process. We will not allow the process of cultural change to be misused to hand control of our staff recruitment to another organisation, removing the control of TSSA’s own democratically elected Executive Committee (EC) and General Secretary. We are completely clear that we will not allow our union to be bullied by anyone.

Many TSSA staff had 3 separate pay rises over the course of 2023, while many of our own members suffered from years of pay freezes. Instead of recognising that TSSA staff are being well paid, GMB have instead demanded that we must reduce staff working hours by more than 10% and increase pay significantly above inflation. Despite our desire to settle disputes with our staff, we will not allow members’ money to be misused for pay awards far in excess of anything that our members could ever expect.

Emphases added by Skwawkbox

Furious TSSA members have told Skwawkbox that Eslamdoust’s proposal to meet GMB general secretary Gary Smith to resolve the dispute shows a fundamental lack of understanding of how unions work and that the attack on workers as greedy and demanding mirrors the tactic of the bad employers that TSSA and other unions are supposed to fight, not copy.

A ‘frequently asked questions’ document issued by the striking workers and their union reps addresses Eslamdoust’s claims:

The General Secretary has claimed that the GMB union are using an in-house agreement to block staff recruitment. Is this true?

GMB members are not seeking to block the appointment of new staff. All we want is for our existing transparent procedures to be upheld, which is not happening. We would welcome recruitment to fill the 9 existing Organising vacancies, which could do much to increase our ability to recruit and organise in the workforce.

When the General Secretary emailed GMB Reps on 16 November 2023 to state that the TSSA Executive Committee had approved recruitment of three new vacancies (Campaigns and Media Role, Stakeholder and Engagement Role, Legal and Governance Role) on an interim basis of six months, we asked for job descriptions so that we could consult over the grading and pay for the roles. This is the same as we would do for any new job role and is in line with our established collective bargaining procedures. Further, it ensures that there is no potential for discrimination.

Five months later the General Secretary has yet to provide us with job descriptions. Had she come to us with the job descriptions at any point in the last five months we would have been happy to consult so that the roles could move forward to advertising. What we couldn’t do is sign off on roles without any information on their grading, pay or duties, or how these new roles fit in within a Staffing and Operational plan (which we have also never seen).

Existing roles do not need negotiation over grading and pay, so over the last six months the General Secretary could have recruited to fill a number of roles, including 9 Organiser vacancies, and roles in the Membership services, and Comms teams. She has not done so.

She has, however, advertised for a part time Political Officer, and appointed an interim HR Manager role (twice in three months, without following any agreed recruitment procedures). She has also appointed a part-time, temporary Assistant General Secretary, (changed from a full time to part time post without explanation) advertising that post in the week before the Christmas shut down with just a two-day window for staff to apply while half the staff were already on leave. Just this week TSSA has advertised for a new Assistant General Secretary.

It is simply not true to say that the GMB is blocking recruitment. We are just insisting that the creation of entirely new roles follows our existing transparent processes.

How about the General Secretary’s claims that the dispute has been fabricated as part of a takeover plot by the GMB, or to distract from other problems within the GMB?

These false allegations seem designed purely to distract from the very real problems at the heart of this dispute.

Our dispute existed last autumn, well before the latest allegations about the GMB came to light. Our General Secretary is well aware of this. We are disappointed that she has chosen to misrepresent our dispute and make false allegations to the Guardian rather than meet us at ACAS.

The accusations of bullying are well-founded, detailed, and were being investigated by the whistleblower service, Howlett Brown, until the EC and GS terminated their service without a replacement lined up. The President has been aware of the bullying allegations against Ms Eslamdoust, for months, but chose not to follow TSSA’s procedures for managing bullying grievances.

The GMB withdrew from merger talks with TSSA in April 2023 and has no desire to change the status of our current relationship.

The idea that the GMB is making staff manufacture a dispute in order to force a merger is insulting to our members who are experienced trade unionists and more than able to make their own decisions.

Why haven’t you met with the EC to discuss your concerns directly?

We have not received any invitation from the EC. We are open to meeting with them and would welcome the opportunity to explain our issues to them. If the EC requested a meeting with the GMB that has not been conveyed to us by the GS or AGS, this is a worrying reminder of the previous Cortes regime when the EC and staff were kept apart from each other.

Three GMB Reps sit on the Change Management Oversight Group, with two EC members and the GS. As part of this group, we have repeatedly expressed concerns that culture change had stalled in the last 6 months and has now in fact regressed.

In addition, since the publication of the Kennedy and Conley reports in February 2023 (14 months ago), the EC have never met with the whole staff once.

We have, however, met with delegates from the EC, including the President and Treasurer, in meetings trying to resolve this issue on several occasions. In addition, the president has been copied in on all the correspondence about issues we have sent to the GS since last December.

The General Secretary says that nothing has been raised through the agreed internal processes? Why not?

The GMB reps have raised collective concerns through the established bargaining machinery at meetings in November, January, and twice in March, and also in correspondence, since November 2023, to no avail.

Individuals have also raised concerns through the internal and external whistleblowing services. Two staff are currently off work sick with work-related stress, which is itself an indicator of problems in the workplace.

Claims that there is no bullying or harassment

The General Secretary is aware of complaints about bullying, and a culture of fear, within the TSSA. They have been raised repeatedly in formal negotiation meetings between November and March.

In addition, one member of staff submitted a complaint under TSSA’s bullying policy against the General Secretary to the independent investigator Howlett Brown in December last year. This was after a vindictive and targeted bullying campaign against this member for a period of months.

At the beginning of this year the contract with Howlett Brown was terminated without any consultation with the GMB reps or any consideration of the consequences to staff with active complaints and queries.

This decision has caused our member additional distress and anxiety seriously affecting their health and wellbeing without any clarity or certainty regarding the status of their complaint, who will be investigating it and when. During this time the General Secretary has gone out of her way to damage the professional reputation of the member, repeatedly criticising and denigrating them.

To date no alternative independent provider has been appointed which is in direct contravention of the Kennedy report.

Bullying of a trade union rep

One of our Trade union representatives has been subject to hostile behaviour and bullying by the General Secretary, since last November. This has included sending an intimidatory email to the rep, circulating that email to every member of the staff body, and repeatedly lying about him and denigrating him to other staff, in what appears to be an attempt to destroy his reputation.

Emphases added

Approached for comment yesterday, the TSSA doubled down on its blaming of the GMB, compounding the impression of a lack of understanding or recognition that the issues are with the unhappiness of people working for the union and not with the management of the union they are instructing to coordinate the strike on their behalf. A spokesperson told Skwawkbox:

We would encourage GMB to start talking with TSSA to focus on resolving the workplace issues they say they have. It is genuinely extraordinary that GMB are so blatantly seeking to interfere in (and misrepresent) the internal administration of a sister union. TSSA EC took the decision that the last tranche of HS2 compensation would be reserved for strategic objectives to grow and strengthen our union. That is what is happening.

Invited to amend its statement in light of how Skwawkbox would be forced to report it, the union declined.

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Exclusive: Eslamdoust continues to lash out as TSSA staff pass unanimous no-confidence vote

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 19/04/2024 - 1:34am in

Union general secretary keeps blaming GMB as union employees say she keeps exposing lack of understanding of union mechanics

A union in flames? TSSA staff appear to think so

Maryam Eslamdoust and the TSSA rail union she is running – into the ground in the eyes of many – continues to lash out at the GMB union for TSSA staff’s complete dissatisfaction with her management and her team – despite a unanimous motion of no-confidence passed at an ‘all-staff meeting’ last week.

Ms Eslamdoust was recommended to members, despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience, by the TSSA executive after former general secretary Manuel Cortes was sacked over sexual harassment and bullying exposed in the Kennedy Report, and was supposedly going to clean up the union after the scandal. However, the union has been rocked by fresh allegations of abuse and deep resentment against the new general secretary for the treatment of staff, particularly women.

The staff, who are members of the GMB union – union employees are usually represented by a different union in case they need to enter a dispute with their employer – and recently voted overwhelmingly for strike action in response to the abuse they say they are experiencing, held the ‘all-staff meeting’ a week ago. The following motion was passed unanimously:

TSSA Staff Motion of No Confidence in the GS, AGS, and President

Following the recent all-staff meeting on Thursday 11 April, where the AGS announced that the Trainee Organiser’s contracts would not be extended without any prior notice to the Trainee Organisers themselves, the TSSA staff unreservedly condemn this as a further example of an unacceptable and grotesque management style that has no place in a respectful and civilised
workplace.

The further revelation by the AGS [assistant general secretary] that a significant sum of HS2 compensation monies has not yet been invested, losing us around £25,000 per month in interest at a conservative estimate, gives the TSSA staff considerable concern that the union is not being managed effectively to ensure its long-term survival as an independent trade union.

The TSSA staff reconfirms our commitment to the policy of remaining an independent union, and believes that with the right management, sufficient resources, meaningful progress on culture change, and an environment in which staff feel valued and respected, this remains a realistic prospect.

However, the many contradictions between stated objectives and the decisions being taken, whether in respect of resourcing priorities, progressing culture change, or managing the union’s finances, only leads us to conclude this is far from being the case.

The TSSA staff therefore instructs the GMB staff reps to convey the decision of this meeting that the staff have no confidence in the GS [general secretary], AGS, and President of the union.

The TSSA executive member for Scotland also resigned last week, saying he could no longer work with Eslamdoust or the executive supporting her.

Ms Eslamdoust attacked Skwawkbox during the general secretary election for scrutinising her and her supporters’ campaign claims that she had ‘high level trade union experience’. She also recently wrote a bizarre article for the Guardian in which she accused the GMB union of attempting to bully her so it could take over the TSSA and distract from its own renewed sexual harassment scandal, and tried to blame others for her failure to take meaningful action to implement the Kennedy Report’s recommendations, outraging staff members who have pointed out that their dispute pre-dates the new GMB revelations.

However, when asked for comment the union doubled down on its blaming of the GMB, compounding the impression of a lack of understanding or recognition that the issues are with the unhappiness of people working for the union and not with the management of the union they are instructing to coordinate the strike on their behalf. A spokesperson told Skwawkbox:

We would encourage GMB to start talking with TSSA to focus on resolving the workplace issues they say they have. It is genuinely extraordinary that GMB are so blatantly seeking to interfere in (and misrepresent) the internal administration of a sister union. TSSA EC took the decision that the last tranche of HS2 compensation would be reserved for strategic objectives to grow and strengthen our union. That is what is happening.

TSSA staff have said that their approaches to the union’s management have been ignored or rebuffed and that Eslamdoust and her team even opened talks with ACAS without bothering to inform them. The union’s latest comment will do little or nothing to change the publicly-expressed view of staff, reps and members, including a former TSSA assistant general secretary, that Ms Eslamdoust has ‘lost the plot’.

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Breaking: TSSA union staff set strike dates after 93% ‘yes’ ballot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 18/04/2024 - 9:11pm in

Union turbulence continues as staff confirm dates for pickets over union management’s alleged bullying, avoidance and abandonment of agreed procedures

Staff members of the TSSA rail union who are represented by the GMB union have agreed strike dates, following their overwhelming vote for industrial action last week. On a huge turnout of 86%, 93.3% of staff voted yes to both strike action and ‘action short of a strike’ in their dispute over what they say is bullying and high-handed behaviour by the union’s general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust and her team. Strikes will take place 30 April and 4 June, including pickets of TSSA offices.

Eslamdoust was recommended to members, despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience, by a TSSA executive reeling after former general secretary Manuel Cortes was sacked over sexual harassment and bullying exposed in the Kennedy Report. The union has seen fresh allegations of abuse and deep resentment against the new general secretary.

Ms Eslamdoust attacked Skwawkbox during the general secretary election for scrutinising her and her supporters’ campaign claims that she had ‘high level trade union experience’, an article that led to accusations of ‘losing the plot’. She also recently wrote a bizarre article for the Guardian in which she accused the GMB union of attempting to bully her so it could take over the TSSA and distract from its own renewed sexual harassment scandal, and tried to blame others for her failure to take meaningful action to implement the Kennedy Report’s recommendations, outraging staff members who have pointed out that their dispute pre-dates the new GMB revelations.

In an ‘FAQ’ document sent to all GMB members working for TSSA, the group explains the reasons for the strike and answer the union management’s attempts to blame workers for the dispute:

Why haven’t you met with the EC to discuss your concerns directly?

We have not received any invitation from the EC. We are open to meeting with them and would welcome the opportunity to explain our issues to them. If the EC requested a meeting with the GMB that has not been conveyed to us by the GS or AGS, this is a worrying reminder of the previous Cortes regime when the EC and staff were kept apart from each other.

Three GMB Reps sit on the Change Management Oversight Group, with two EC members and the GS. As part of this group, we have repeatedly expressed concerns that culture change had stalled in the last 6 months and has now in fact regressed.

In addition, since the publication of the Kennedy and Conley reports in February 2023 (14 months ago), the EC have never met with the whole staff once.

We have, however, met with delegates from the EC, including the President and Treasurer, in meetings trying to resolve this issue on several occasions. In addition, the president has been copied in on all the correspondence about issues we have sent to the GS since last December.

The General Secretary says that nothing has been raised through the agreed internal processes? Why not?

The GMB reps have raised collective concerns through the established bargaining machinery at meetings in November, January, and twice in March, and also in correspondence, since November 2023, to no avail.
Individuals have also raised concerns through the internal and external whistleblowing services. Two staff are currently off work sick with work-related stress, which is itself an indicator of problems in the workplace.

Claims that there is no bullying or harassment

The General Secretary is aware of complaints about bullying, and a culture of fear, within the TSSA. They have been raised repeatedly in formal negotiation meetings between November and March.

In addition, one member of staff submitted a complaint under TSSA’s bullying policy against the General Secretary to the independent investigator Howlett Brown in December last year. This was after a vindictive and targeted bullying campaign against this member for a period of months.

At the beginning of this year the contract with Howlett Brown was terminated without any consultation with the GMB reps or any consideration of the consequences to staff with active complaints and queries.

This decision has caused our member additional distress and anxiety seriously affecting their health and wellbeing without any clarity or certainty regarding the status of their complaint, who will be investigating it and when. During this time the General Secretary has gone out of her way to damage the professional reputation of the member, repeatedly criticising and denigrating them.

To date no alternative independent provider has been appointed which is in direct contravention of the Kennedy report.

Bullying of a trade union rep

One of our Trade union representatives has been subject to hostile behaviour and bullying by the General Secretary, since last November. This has included sending an intimidatory email to the rep, circulating that email to every member of the staff body, and repeatedly lying about him and denigrating him to other staff, in what appears to be an attempt to destroy his reputation.

In an additional note, the group adds:

Finally we have recently discovered via ACAS that TSSA have made contact but we only found this out yesterday when they contacted GMB.  There has been no communication from TSSA to any of the reps or our FTO to discuss with us or inform us that they were considering or even doing this.

More big TSSA news will follow this afternoon, after the expiry of a press deadline.

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Breaking: TSSA union staff vote overwhelmingly for strike action against bullying

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 15/04/2024 - 11:41pm in

Rail union general secretary’s troubles escalate as staff react to alleged smears and abuse

GMB members working for the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action, including full strike action, in a dispute with their trade union employer.

The staff were balloted last week and, from a turnout of 86 per cent, 93% voted in favour of strike action. They will meet tonight to agree strike action and dates in a dispute over workplace bullying and harassment and failures to follow agreed policies and procedures designed to create a better workplace culture.

The TSSA, already reeling after its former general secretary Manuel Cortes was sacked over sexual harassment and bullying exposed in the Kennedy Report, has seen fresh allegations of abuse and deep resentment against new general secretary Maryam Eslamdoust, who was recommended to members by the union’s executive despite what appears to be a complete lack of relevant experience.

Ms Eslamdoust attacked Skwawkbox during the general secretary election for scrutinising her and her supporters’ campaign claims that she had ‘high level trade union experience’, an article that led to accusations of ‘losing the plot’. She also recently wrote a bizarre article for the Guardian in which she accused the GMB union of attempting to bully her so it could take over the TSSA and tried to blame others for her failure to take meaningful action to implement the Kennedy Report’s recommendations.

GMB London Region Organiser Andrew Harden said:

The ballot result is an obvious indication that our members at TSSA are united in their dispute. They want changes to how they are treated at work and are worried about how the union they work for is managed.

Repeated requests for TSSA’s leadership to agree to ACAS talks have been refused and recent media comments by the TSSA’s General Secretary have made it harder for staff to believe that the General Secretary or  TSSA’s leadership want to resolve this dispute.

We now expect this employer to accept the result of the ballot, understand what it means and engage in good faith to achieve a satisfactory outcome for our members.

Eslamdoust has also been accused of ‘summarily de-recognising’ TSSA’s self-organised women’s group. The union’s executive member for Scotland resigned last week saying that Eslamdoust and union president Melissa Heywood had “pulled apart all the good work that the interim President and interim Assistant General Secretary” and were suspending staff for challenging their decisions, voicing opinions or raising issues about fresh allegations of bullying and harassment.

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