Branch Activists

UNISON is a democratic organisation that aims to put it's members at the heart of everything it does. The workplace representative is UNISON's most important link between the union and it's members. You don't need to have much experience or free time to be a representative. UNISON gives training and support and is happy that you do as much or as little as you are able to.

There are four different types of representative:

If you need further information or wish to apply for any of the above roles, please contact the branch on 01785 245000 via email.



UNISON aims to have at least one Steward in each workplace and department (more in larger departments and where members work shifts).

As a Steward your involvement and activity will vary depending on your experience, skills and the time you are able to commit. Your work may range from being a local contact to a high level negotiator, but generally you will get involved in some, or all or the following:

  • Talking to members, distributing information and getting their views.
  • Recruiting and organising.
  • Helping members get advice on workplace problems.
  • Being a spokesperson/representative for your group.

Being an elected UNISON Steward gives you access to important rights and support, including:

  • Recognition as a UNISON representative.
  • Training by UNISON & the TUC.
  • Paid time off for training, meetings with members and managers, and some other union work.
  • Access to UNISON advice & information.
  • Mentoring & support from Branch and Regional Officers.
  • Use of employers telephones, e-mail and internal mail by agreement.

UNISON Stewards need to be elected by the members that they wish to represent and they also need to be accepted by the Branch Committee. Stewards also need to re-apply each year at the AGM to continue in their role.

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Workplace Contact

The Workplace Contact is an ideal role for members who would like to get more involved in UNISON, but who do not want to take on the full role of Steward.

Workplace Contacts can get involved in a variety of ways, including:

  • Being a point of contact between members and the Branch.
  • Recruiting.
  • Supporting members at work.
  • Distributing information.
  • Keeping notice boards up to date.
  • Helping with Branch organisation.

Workplace Contacts can support existing Stewards or Branch Officers, or can be established for groups of members who cannot find anybody willing to be a Steward. Members who are interested in becoming Stewards might want to take up this role first to get some experience before committing themselves further.

A Workplace Contact has access to a range of services from UNISON, including:

  • Regular UNISON mailings.
  • Involvement in Branch work.
  • Training.
  • Advice on dealing with workplace problems.

A Workplace Contact does not need to be elected, but the members that you would be supporting should agree on who the contact should be.

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Learning Representative

UNISON Learning Representatives work closely with their Branch education of lifelong learning co-ordinator to promote learning in the Branch

Learning Reps may have had experience of adult learning such as Return to Learn (R2L), or they can be existing Workplace Representatives who want to develop learning in the places that they cover.

Some of the tasks Learning Representatives will be involved in include:

  • Raising awareness of lifelong learning issues in the workplace.
  • Offering support & encouragement to learners.
  • Encouraging learners to get involved in the Branch.
  • Working with the Branch to promote workplace learning with employers.

UNISON Learning Reps are entitled to paid time off to undertake their role and also for training. As a Learning Representative you would be encouraged to attend training courses and you would have access to support from the Branch and the Regional Office.

You do not need to be elected to become a Learning Representative, but you will need to be ratified by the Branch Committee on an annual basis.

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Health & Safety Representative

We aim to have at least one UNISON Health & Safety Rep to cover each workplace where we have members.

As a Health & Safety Representative you have a wide range of rights and functions, including:

  • Making representations, on behalf of members on health & safety or welfare matters.
  • Inspecting designated workplace areas.
  • Investigating potential hazards, complaints by members and causes of accidents, dangerous occurences and diseases.

As a Health & Safety Representative you would receive facilities and support in your role and also time off with pay for training.

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Equality Representative

The Branch Equality Officer has a number of important functions. It is not expected that the office holder will be the font of all knowledge on every equality issue or carry sole responsibility for the branch’s equality work. Everyone shares responsibility for tackling prejudice and promoting equality. The role of the branch equality officer is to co-ordinate and monitor this shared responsibility and to act as the point of contact for the Branch on Equality issues.

Tasks relating to the role of Equality Officer:

  • To be the identified and well publicised point of contact in the Branch for equality issues
  • To collect and share information on equalities issues, including information from the regional and self-organised groups
  • To make sure other branch officers and the branch committee consider the equalities dimension of everything they do
  • To make sure “equal opportunities” is being raised in all collective bargaining – not just in bargaining on ‘pure’ equalities issues
  • To encourage and support the development of branch self-organised groups on behalf of the branch committee
  • To have a co-ordinating role among the self-organised groups, and between the self-organised groups and the rest of the branch
  • To ensure new recruits know about UNISON’s commitment to equality and opportunities to participate in self-organisation
  • To advise the branch officers and branch committee on the development and monitoring of the action plan to achieve proportionality and fair representation
  • To co-ordinate the development and training of members from under-represented groups
  • To co-ordinate motions and support to delegates attending self-organised group conferences.
  • To co-ordinate the work being undertaken by the Equality Representatives. Working with the Equality Representatives in researching and analysing their Employment policies and practices in light of Equalities Legislation and guidance, producing key information to feed into existing branch negotiating structures.

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Environmental Representative

Environmental Representatives focus on the climate change agenda and changes in work organisation and green workplace projects.

Environmental Representatives may serve on environmental committees where these have been established. They can work to improve the impact of an organisation or workplace on the local environment, helping nearby communities and improving the reputation of the Employer.

Environmental Representatives have no statutory rights to time off, training or facilities these are subject to negotiation at a local level with the employer.

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