Get active in UNISON

Whether it's getting elected as a steward or branch officer, becoming a Health & Safety rep or just offering your services as a local mailing contact, why not see how much more you could get out of your membership?

You may already be a member of UNISON because you know that it offers essential support when you need it at work and an unbeatable package of services and benefits.  But do you know how much more you could get out of the union be deciding to be active?

Being active in UNISON

10 ways you can get active
  1. Go to a branch meeting - find out more about what the branch does and what you could do.
  2. Offer to help out in the branch office.
  3. Volunteer to become a local mailing contact, passing on newsletters and documentation to your colleages.
  4. Offer to keep a noticeboard in your workplace up to date with the latest branch ond national information.
  5. Ask about union education and training courses - there's a whole range of courses designed with you in mind.
  6. Become a local recruiter.  Ask the branch office about it's recruitment plans and for some materials to help you make sure your workmates are members of UNISON.
  7. If you care about safety at work, why not become a Health & Safety rep?  You would be entitled to paid time off for courses and to carry out workplace duties.
  8. Let the branch office know what you are interested in.  You could help out with branch education, with local publicity or with making sure that all groups are represented in the branch through self organisation for women, black members, disabled people, young people or lesbians and gay men.
  9. Become a steward - your union needs you and it can be a lot of fun!
  10. If you decide to be active in UNISON make sure the branch registers you with the regional office as an activist.  That way you will be sent UNISONfocus, the union's fortnightly recruiting and organising newspaper for activists.
5 things you DON'T have to do!
  1. Spend hours and hours in smoke-filled meeting rooms.
  2. Be an expert on employment law (although we could help you become one!).
  3. Give up your job.
  4. Spend every waking hour striving for the good of others (maybe just one or two now and again!).
  5. Know all the answers - that's what the branch, region and national offices are there for!
Frequently asked questions

I know the union needs reps to support local members, and I'd like to help out but I just haven't the time.  I'm a busy working mother with family responsibilities.  I couldn't be active in UNISON, could I?
Of course UNISON needs reps but there are lots of different ways to be active in UNISON.  Activists and reps are entitled to some paid time off.  You may also have the opportunity to 'jobshare' as a rep which means you share your workload and responsibilities with one of your colleagues.  It also means you can get the advice and support of your jobsharer in the role.

If even that feels like too much, why not become a Health & Safety rep?  You would be entitled to paid time off for work for training and other activities.

If you can't meet that commitment, why not become a mailing contact for the branch, passing on mailings and perhaps keeping a noticeboard up to date?

It's all very well me doing something for UNISON, but what's in it for me?
A lot of activists gain personal and professional benefits from it.  It can lead to greater job satisfaction, introduce you to lots of new people and experiences and offer both personal and professional education and training opportunities.

I like the idea of helping my colleagues but I'm no politician and I don't know enough about trade unions to answer their questions.
You don't need to be a political firebrand to help your union.  As a rep you wouldn't be expected to solve everyone's problems yourself - you have a branch to support you and a network of  regional and national officers and specialists to call on.

UNISON also offers a full range of education and training courses covering everything from pensions advice to effective speaking and sickness absence policies.  So, when you need to learn new skills or information, we'll help you, and it won't cost you a penny.

Branch Officers, Stewards and Health & Safety reps

Branch roles
Workplace contacts
This is an ideal role for someone who is interested in becoming a steward or safety rep and wants to find out more about what’s involved. Find out more

A UNISON steward is an elected rep who helps organise, recruit and represent members in their workplace. Find out more

Health and Safety reps
A UNISON health and safety rep helps to make sure that people’s jobs and their workplaces do not cause injury or ill-health.

Branch officer descriptions

Branch Officers
Vice Chairperson
Joint Branch Secretaries (1 general seat, 1 women's seat)
Womens Officer
Auditors (2)
Education Secretary
Welfare Officer
Health and Safety Officer
Communications Officer
Equalities Officer
Membership Services Officer
Black Members Officer
Gay and Lesbian Members Officer
Youth Officer
International Officer
Disabled Members Officer

Executive Stewards/Health and Safety Representatives
Executive Steward
Health and Safety Representative

For further information on the role and responsibilites on any of the above please click on the appropriate link.

If you would like to become a Steward or Health & Safety Rep, or would like more information about the role of Branch Officer please contact the Branch Office on ext 22843.

Chairperson/Vice Chairperson
Tasks relating to the post of chairperson:
-  preside at all meetings of the branch and branch committee
-  ensure that business is properly conducted
-  advise the branch officers and branch committee in respect of matters relating to procedure and interpretation of the rules.

Branch Secretary
Tasks relating to the post of secretary:
-  convene and attend all meetings of the branch and branch committee
-  arrange for the minutes of meetings to be kept in a proper manner and circulated to all branch officers and stewards
-  co-operate with the union's head office in keeping accurate and up to date membership records
-  communicate with the members of the branch
-  communicate with the union's regional and national offices on behalf of the branch
-  ensure that the branch is aware of opportunities to participate in the activities of the wider union
-  support and encourage stewards in the branch on an individual and collective basis
-  ensure that members and stewards are aware, and take advantage of, educational and training opportunities within UNISON
-  ensure that appropriate publicity activities are developed and co-ordinated by the branch
-  act as spokesperson for the branch when in contact with other levels of the union and external organisations
-  ensure that members receive the benefits, rights and services to which they are entitled
-  co-ordinate all branch negotiations and industrial relations matters
-  ensure, in conjunction with the branch committee, that the branch observes the union's rules.

Tasks relating to the post of treasurer:
-  conduct the branch's financial business
-  ensure, as far as possible, that all subscriptions collected are sent in their entirety to head office
-  keep accounts in accordance with the rules
-  provide reports on the financial position of the branch to the branch committee
-  provide a detailed financial report for the annual branch meeting
-  advise the branch officers and branch committee in respect of matters relating to financial management and appropriate expenditure
-  provide an audited annual return of branch income.

Womens Officer
Tasks relating to the post of women's officer:
Unavailable - contact Branch Office.

Auditors (2)
Tasks relating to the post of auditor:
-  oversee the financial records of the branch
-  undertake an annual audit of the branch financial records
-  provide a written report of the annual audit to the general meeting
-  report any financial irregularities to UNISON's internal audit department.

Education Secretary
Tasks relating to the post of education secretary:
-  make sure all stewards and safety representatives receive induction and refresher training
-  publicise the range of educational and training opportunities available to members and activists
-  encourage branch members and activists to make use of UNISON Open College courses, especially 'Return to Learn' and 'Women, Work and Society'
-  to establish contact with the regional education officer/regional education committee
-  establish a plan of training for activists and to produce an annual budget to meet it's costs
-  to keep records of what training has been undertaken and by whom within the branch
-  to assist in securing paid time off for training where appropriate.

Welfare Officer
Tasks relating to the post of welfare officer:
- ensure that branch officers, stewards and workplace representatives have regular up to date information about UNISON Welfare
-  ensure that members seeking welfare assistance receive a prompt, supportive, effective response
- liaise, as appropriate, with regional and national levels to ensure that UNISON welfare support is provided effectively.

Health and Safety Officer
Tasks relating to the post of health and safety officer:
-  increase the awareness of members, safety representatives and branch officers of health and safety issues
-  organise the information held by the branch on health and safety
-  co-ordinate the activity of safety representatives and to organise regular meetings of safety representatives
-  advise the branch committee on health and safety issues arising in the branch and to recommend policies and priorities
-  act as a link between the safety representatives and  other branch representatives
-  ensure that health and safety issues are treated as an integral part of the work of the branch
-  maintain contact with the region and regional service groups.

Communications Officer
Tasks relating to the post of communications officer:
-  promote UNISON's policies and assist in providing information to members
-  assist with efforts to recruit and organise members
-  help support UNISON's national and regional campaigns
-  help create a positive image for the branch among members, potential members and the public
-  produce news sheets or bulletins for distribution to branch members
-  ensure that publicity and campaign materials are distributed to stewards, members and non-members
-  monitor the local media for stories which affect the branch
-  help ensure that the branch makes effective contact with the media whenever necessary.

Equalities Officer
Tasks relating to the post of equalities officer:
-  advise the branch officers and branch committee in respect of matters relating to equal opportunities
-  advise and support the branch officers and branch committee in respect of equal opportunities and collective bargaining issues
-  advise the branch officers and branch committee on the development and monitoring of the action plan to achieve proportionality and fair representation
-  advise and support the development of any branch self organised groups on behalf of the branch committee
-  develop and promote training opportunities for all disadvantaged members and activists within the branch.

Membership Services Officer
Tasks relating to the post of membership services officer:
Unavailable - contact Branch Office.

Black Members Officer
Tasks relating to the post of black members officer:
Unavailable - contact Branch Office.

Gay and Lesbian Members Officer
Tasks relating to the post of gay and lesbian members officer:
Unavailable - contact Branch Office.

Youth Officer
Tasks relating to the post of youth officer:
-  make contact with young members and non-members to encourage interest in the union
-  identify young members concerns and issues
-  liase with other branch officers and the branch committee on issues affecting young people
-  co-operate with regional initiatives as required
-  advise on matters associated with terms and conditions that may affect young members and potential young members.

International Officer
Tasks relating to the post of international officer:
-  co-ordinate the branch's work on international relations
-  ensure that branch members are informed of UNISON policy on international matters
-  to liase, where appropriate, with regional international structures
-  liase with other branch officers concerning publicity and education on international issues
-  liaise with the solidarity organisations and campaigns that the branch is affiliated to
-  encourage members of the branch to take action and participate in international solidarity activities organised nationally or regionally
-  ensure that information on branch activity is shared at regional and national level
-  seek to develop an international perspective amongst members, stewards and branch officers.

Disabled Members Officer
Tasks relating to the post of disabled members officer:
Unavailable - contact Branch Office.

Executive Steward
Tasks relating to the post of steward:
There are different levels of activity of stewards depending on their willingness and experience, ranging from high level negotiators to local contacts in the workplace.
A Steward should seek to:
-  be the first and main point of contact for members with the union
-  recruit new members
-  work with members to establish an organised workplace
-  support and advise members on workplace issues
-  act as a spokesperson for the members they represent and the branch
-  represent members with the employer; dependent on their experience and confidence
- represent members within the branch committee
- be answerable to the members they represent.

Health and Safety Representative
Tasks relating to the post of health and safety representative:
The role of the safety representative may be fulfilled in one of two ways:
-  by stewards acting in a dual capacity
-  by members who have an interest in health and safety.
For further information contact the Branch Office.

Self Organised Groups

What are Self Organised Groups?

One of UNISON's founding principles is fair representation. This means that UNISON is committed to ensuring that the union's elected representatives reflect the make up of the union's membership in terms of race, gender, sexuality, disability, and type of work. One of the main stepping stones to achieving this principle is Self Organisation. There are five Self Organised Groups for:

  • Black Members
  • Young Members
  • Lesbian and Gay Members
  • Women Members
  • Members with Disabilities

The purpose of Self Organisation is to enable members within these groups to:
Meet to share concerns and aspirations, and to establish their own priorities;
Elect their own representatives to other levels of self-organisation and other levels of UNISON's organisation;
Work within a flexible structure to build confidence, encourage participation and provide opportunities for the fuller involvement of disadvantaged members.

Diasbled people in UNISON
UNISON is committed to protecting the rights of disabled people. The Disabled Members Officer is Neil Marsden.  To discuss issues affecting disabled people contact the Branch Office on extn 22843.

UNISON recognises the importance of it's LGBT members and its responsibility for paying particular attention to our needs; that LGBT rights are Trade Union issues.  UNISON's commitment to equality and to tackling discrimination is written into the union's rules.  UNISON's support for LGBT rights has not come out of thin air; it is the consequence of many years of work and lobbying by our activists.  Members may meet as a self-organised group at branch, regional and national level

After recent discussions with the Gay Police Association, UNISON has agreed to sponsor the GPA to enable them to better carry out the valuable work they do in West Yorkshire.  We are very proud of this arrangement and look forward to working with the GPA on future events.