Branch Activists


Some members are elected by their workforce to play different branch roles. Branches must elect certain core officers. They may also create other posts according to their rules. Officers are elected either at the AGM or by postal ballot beforehand.

The Branch Officer Roles for Staffordshire UNISON are as follows:

Branch chair

The branch chair facilitates branch and committee meetings and may also be a senior negotiator.

Branch secretary

The branch secretary is the main contact person with the wider union.
They handle branch administration and work with the branch chair and other leading officers to provide leadership. They may also be a senior negotiator.

Assistant branch secretary

To work alongside the Branch Secretary and other Branch Officers encouraging a team working approach, development of new and existing workplace representatives, undertaking casework and being actively involved in strategic negotiations relevant to agreed areas of responsibility.

Branch treasurer

Responsible for managing branch finances, including keeping accounts in accordance with the rules, preparing budgets and advising the branch officers and branch committee on matters relating to financial management and appropriate expenditure.

Branch health and safety officer

Promoting health and safety at work is one of the functions of the branch.

Even though employers have clear legal duties to make sure that employment does not cause death, injury or ill-health, health and safety is a trade union issue and not something which can be left to management.

Branch young members’ officer

The role of the branch young members’ officer is ideal for someone who is interested in becoming more active in the union.

The post may be a stepping stone to becoming a steward or taking on wider roles.

Branch equalities co-ordinator(s)

Work on equal rights issues including sex, race, disability and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues (there may be up to four per branch).

Branch equality co-ordinators have a number of important functions. But it is not expected that the office holder will be the fount of all knowledge on every equality issue, nor carry sole responsibility for the branch’s equality work.

Everyone shares responsibility for tackling prejudice and discrimination and promoting equality.

The role of branch equality co-ordinators is to co-ordinate and monitor this shared responsibility.

Branch education co-ordinator

Helps arrange training courses and education programmes for members, stewards, health and safety reps and branch officers.

Branch lifelong learning co-ordinator

Works with employers and co-ordinates the work of union learning reps in supporting members with lifelong learning and skills for life.

Branch communications officer

The branch communications officer’s role includes creating a positive image for the branch and wider union among members, potential members and the public.

Branch international relations officer

This officer develops and leads on international solidarity activities including campaigns, twinning with sister unions and support for projects abroad.

Branch membership officer 

Keeps track of the branch’s membership and works to develop recruitment and organising.

Branch welfare officer 

Makes sure that that members seeking welfare assistance receive a prompt, supportive and effective response.

Retired members’ officer 

The retired members’ officer enables retired members of the branch to continue to be active in the union through the branch’s retired members’ section.

Labour Link officer (England, Wales and Scotland only) 

The Labour Link officer is elected by, and accountable to, the Labour Link section within the branch and must be an individual member of the Labour Party. This is because the post holder should work to take UNISON policy forward in the party, including being a delegate to the general committee of the party and encouraging joint work and campaigning with the local constituency Labour Party.

The branch UNISON Labour Link officer is the key contact point for information about regional and national UNISON Labour Link matters and is responsible for co-ordinating our activities in the branch.

They also represent the interests of Labour Link levy payers on the UNISON branch committee.

Environmental officer 

Co-ordinates the union’s green and environmental agenda in the branch.

This is still a new role in many UNISON branches. The job of trade union environmental representative involves representing the workforce in discussions and negotiations regarding the development and implementation of company / employer environmental policies and practices.

Where resources and capacity exist, the job can also involve acting on behalf of members as a link person with local environmental campaign organisations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace or Stop Climate Chaos.

Environmental policies and practices can cover areas such as energy use, recycling, travel and procurement.

Workplace contact

The role of a workplace contact is to let the branch know what’s happening in your workplace, and to help the union get messages to its members. It’s a good learning opportunity and starting point to get involved in the union.

Workplace contacts can and do play an important role in helping groups of members to organise effectively.

Elected workplace stewards

Workplace stewards are the heart of our trade union. UNISON’s stewards are the reason we win campaigns that result in better lives for our members and all working people. Stewards help to organise colleagues into an effective, strong and welcoming membership.

Stewards in workplaces where UNISON is recognised by the employer have rights to time off for training and to carry out their work.

Stewards have a right to be involved in how their branch is run and are the most important link between the members and the union.

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

Stewards are elected each year by the group of members that they represent and the post is open to job share.

Health and safety reps

Health and safety representatives care about workers’ safety and campaign for better working conditions. They play a vital role in keeping our members healthy and safe at work.

Safety representatives have a specific role and functions and responsibilities and also have important legal rights. A health and safety representative has the right to training and to raise issues which affect the health and safety of members.

UNISON aims to have at least one health and safety representative in every workplace where we have members.

Union learning reps 

Union learning representatives, often known as ULRs, are passionate about getting people back into learning – whether it is professional qualifications or basic numeracy and literacy skills.

Learning reps are likely to be members who have recently completed a learning programme and are enthusiasts and advocates for learning in their own workplaces.

They have some rights to time off for training and carrying out their duties.

Equality reps

Equality reps aim to make sure people are treated fairly at work and do not suffer from discrimination on the basis of sex, race, sexual orientation, disability, age, religious beliefs or because they work part time.