Members can be elected by their workforce to fulfil the branch roles listed below and the duties that these entail. Branches must annually elect certain core officers. They may also create other posts according to their Branch Constitution. Officers are elected either at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) or by a postal ballot beforehand.
(Branches may elect other officers, in addition to these, as required.)
- chairing all meetings of the branch and branch committee, agreeing the agenda for meetings with the secretary and making sure that business is properly conducted in line with union democracy;
- advising branch officers and the branch committee on procedure and rules;
- making sure all functions of the branch are carried out;
- working closely with the secretary and other officers to provide leadership to the branch.
- acting as the strategic lead officer and co-ordinator within the branch;
- encouraging partnership working within the branch committee and the development of new representatives and stewards;
- managing any branch staff;
- managing the delegation of work to other branch officers and branch staff as appropriate, while providing support and guidance;
- guiding the branch’s development by preparing and implementing a branch organisation and development plan;
- making sure the representation of members within the branch is in accordance with national guidance and in partnership with regional staff;
- convening and attending all meetings of the branch and branch committees and making sure proper minutes are kept and circulated;
- making sure branch records are kept in a proper manner;
- making sure the branch processes membership applications speedily and accurately and maintains records in accordance with UNISON’s systems;
- making sure there is regular communication with branch members, including news of campaigns, negotiations, issues, branch developments and activities;
- communicating with the wider union, including the region and centre, on behalf of the branch;
- making sure that branch members are aware of opportunities to take part in the activities of the wider union, including self-organisation if appropriate;
- supporting, mentoring and encouraging stewards and reps in the branch on an individual and collective basis; co-ordinating all branch negotiations and industrial relations matters;
- leading the branch committee in making sure that the branch observes the union’s rules, supports UNISON campaigns and works towards achieving UNISON’s objectives.
- keeping accounts in accordance with the rules;
- preparing budgets for defined areas of activities such as welfare, recruitment, campaigning, etc;
- providing reports on the financial position of the branch to the branch committee or branch executive committee;
- providing a detailed financial report for the annual branch meeting(s);
- advising the branch officers and branch committee on matters relating to financial management and appropriate expenditure;
- providing an audited annual return of branch income.
Health and Safety Officer
- making sure members, safety reps and branch officers are aware of health and safety issues;
- co-ordinating the activity of safety reps, including making sure that there are enough reps in the workplaces organised by the branch, and convening regular meetings of safety reps;
- organising the information held by the branch on health and safety;
- acting as a link between safety reps and other branch reps to make sure that health and safety issues are treated as an integral part of the work of the branch;
- reporting on health and safety issues at branch meetings, committee meetings and annual meetings;
- liaising with relevant branch officers about priorities for health and safety training, campaigns and publicity materials;
- keeping contact with the region and regional service groups, for example via the regional health and safety committee and the national health and safety structures;
- liaising with the equalities officer(s) to make sure that equal opportunities aspects of health and safety issues are taken into account and vice versa.
Young Members’ Officer*
- recruiting new members and organising and encouraging existing young members to become active in the branch and in UNISON campaigns;
- building a branch young members’ organisation and making sure there are potential new young members’ officers in the future;
- making sure issues of concern to young workers are raised through the branch;
- acting as a focal point for all young workers in the branch and workplaces;
- receiving and distributing UNISON young members’ information.
*Branch young members’ officer must be under 27 years of age for the whole of their term of office.
- being the identified and well-publicised point of contact in the branch for equality issues;
- collecting and sharing information on equalities issues, including information from the regional and national self-organised groups;
- making sure other branch officers and the branch committee consider the equalities dimension of everything they do;
- making sure equality is raised in all collective bargaining – not just in bargaining on ‘pure’ equalities issues;
- encouraging and supporting the development of branch self-organised groups on behalf of the branch committee, co-ordinating among them and between them and the branch committee;
- making sure new recruits and potential members know about UNISON’s commitment to equality and the opportunity to take part in self-organisation;
- advising the branch officers and branch committee on the development and monitoring of the action plan to achieve proportionality and fair representation;
- co-ordinating the development and training of members from under-represented groups;
- co-ordinating motions and support for delegates attending self-organised group conferences.
- explaining UNISON’s policies and providing the information members need to play an active role in their union;
- helping the branch’s recruitment and organising;
- supporting UNISON’s national and regional campaigns;
- creating a positive image for the branch and wider union among members, potential members and the public;
- producing news-sheets, bulletins or digital communication for distribution to branch members;
- making sure branch communications are in the accessible formats members need;
- making sure that centrally and regionally produced publicity, communications and campaign materials are distributed, as appropriate, to stewards, members and non-members;
- monitoring and liaising with local media.
International Relations Officer
- co-ordinating the branch’s work on international relations;
- making sure members are informed of national policy on international matters;
- receiving and distributing relevant information;
- encouraging members to be aware of the importance of international solidarity issues within the context of the overall work of the union;
- liaising where appropriate with central and regional international structures and reporting the views of the branch on international activities;
- liaising with other branch officers concerning publicity and education on international issues;
- liaising with the solidarity organisations and campaigns that UNISON is affiliated to;
- encouraging members of the branch to take action and take part in international solidarity activities organised nationally or regionally;
- developing an international perspective among members, stewards and branch officers.
- mapping the branch’s membership to identify membership density and steward coverage – and where there are gaps;
- making sure the branch and union has accurate membership records;
- monitoring the branch’s recruitment and retention rate;
- working with the branch committee and regional organising staff to develop and implement the branch’s organisation and development plan;
- making recommendations to the branch committee on recruitment activities, targets, resources, budgets, etc.
- making sure branch officers, stewards and workplace reps, as well as employers, have regular up-to-date information about There for You (UNISON’s Welfare charity) and its range of services;
- liaising and co-ordinating with the UNISON centre and regions to make sure There for You support is provided effectively;
- undertaking training and seek advice from There for You where necessary;
- developing and co-ordinating local welfare activity;
- developing links with local charities and sources of support such as citizen’s advice bureaus and women’s refuges.
- Building links with women’s sector organisations and where appropriate signposting to specialist organisations for women (domestic abuse/Rape Crisis) and assisting in negotiations on employer policies on violence against women;
- Ensuring that the branch has a wide range of resources for women, such as books, videos and leaflets, and making these resources accessible to all women in the branch;
- Organising a women’s group and identifying concerns
- Identifying women members of the branch, and liaising with the branch committee on progress towards proportionality;
- Being a focal point for women’s issues for members and raising issues affecting women, particularly those with service conditions implications with the branch committee;
- Supporting women in their issues generally and campaigning on issues that are important to women.
Retired Members’ Secretary
- making sure that members approaching retirement have the opportunity to become retired members;
- organising meetings of the branch retired members;
- encouraging the participation of retired members in branch activities as appropriate;
- making links with other retirement organisations in the area and UNISON’s national retired members’ structures;
- attending meetings of the branch committee;
- making sure the retired members section functions in accordance with UNISON rules and any branch standing orders and procedures.
Labour Link Officer (England, Wales and Scotland only)
- explaining and developing the role of the UNISON Labour Link within the branch and ensuring that correct procedures are followed regarding the rights of Labour Link levy payers;
- acting as the central contact point for information on Labour Link matters from national and regional levels of the union, and from the Labour Party, and circulating it to Labour Link members in the branch,
- convening meetings of members as necessary;
- communicating with Labour Party members within the branch and encouraging individual membership of the Labour Party;
- attending the UNISON branch committee and agreeing appropriate means of promoting UNISON policy in the Labour Party;
- organising elections for branch UNISON Labour Link representation within the regional Labour Link as necessary and making sure branch delegates report on their activities on behalf of members;
- liaising with the Labour Link regional political officer;
- promoting political education and policy discussions;
- strengthening links with Labour locally by getting the branch to affiliate to the local Labour Party and electing delegates to attend meetings;
- building campaigning work around key issues and co-ordinating campaigns with the Labour Party in council, Westminster, Scotland, Wales and European elections
- making sure all new stewards and reps receive information about the branch and their role;
- publicising the range of educational and training opportunities available to members and activists, and making sure that all reps go on appropriate courses;
- talking to existing reps about their ongoing training and development needs;
- organising a plan of training for activists and producing an annual budget to meet its costs;
- keeping records of what training has been undertaken and by whom within the branch;
- negotiating with the employer, along with union learning reps on issues relating to learning including time off;
- supporting and co-ordinating the work of buddies and mentors in the branch.
Lifelong Learning Co-ordinator
- working closely with the branch education co-ordinator (the same person may take on both roles);
- co-ordinating the activity of union learning reps in the branch education team;
- working with colleagues to recruit and organise new learning representatives;
- being closely involved in negotiating around learning with the employer;
- making sure members have information on learning opportunities, including UNISON Open College courses, Return to Learn and Lifelong Learning;
- making sure the work of learning reps is fully integrated into the branch.