Get Involved in Your Branch

Branch Activists are the most important link between the Union and its Members.

Training can be completed online via the TUC in as little as 8hrs.  Upon completion you are certified as ERA (Employment Relations Act) Accredited and do not have to undertake Refresher training for 5 years – please note you are not signing up for 5 years, and can resign from your position at any time.

Stewards and or Health & Safety Representative are elected by UNISON Members within your workplace/employer annually and this is renewed at the Branch AGM’s which are held in the spring each year.

There are a number of roles within the Branch including:


  • Workplace Contacts
  • Health & Safety Representatives
  • Union Learning Representatives
  • Equality Representatives

ERA Accredited Stewards

ERA (Employment Relations Act) Accredited Stewards are fully trained UNISON Members, elected into post on a voluntary basis and are there to support, represent and negotiate for Members in the workplace.

Their duties include:

  • Being the first point of contact for UNISON Members in their workplace
  • Recruiting new members
  • Encouraging members to become more active in UNISON
  • Supporting members at meetings
  • Offering advice to members on grievances
  • Attending monthly Branch Executive Committee Meetings

UNISON Stewards are offered free training and support including travel, accommodation and childcare expenses and are entitled to paid time off to attend initial training and to carry out Trade Union Duties.

Health & Safety Representatives

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. They:

  • investigate potential hazards
  • consult members on working conditions
  • lobby your employer to improve safety
  • support members with complaints about safety
  • recruit new members
  • identify members who could become more involved in health and safety issues.

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.

Union Learning Representatives

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. They:

  • find out how lifelong learning could help to resolve issues at work
  • promote learning in a workplace
  • support members to take up learning opportunities
  • encourage adult learners to be active branch members
  • organise workers around learning
  • support people who want to join UNISON
  • recruit new learning reps

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 Representatives

Equality Representatives 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. They:

  • Work with their branch to improve a workplace and employer equality policies
  • campaign for equality in the workplace and the union
  • Promote national campaigns such as International Women’s Day, LGBT History Month and Black History Month
  • Work with other reps to ensure your branch is inclusive and accessible
  • Support people who want to join UNISON
  • Raise awareness of, and talk to members about UNISON’s self-organised groups and forums

Workplace Contacts

Workplace Contacts are UNISON Members who let Members know what’s happening in their Branch or Workplace and is the perfect starting point if you’re considering becoming active in the Union and don’t have the time to commit to being a Steward.

Their duties include:

  • Sharing information with members and colleagues
  • Displaying information on noticeboards
  • Recruiting new members

Please complete the form below if you would like to Nominate yourself for a Branch Activist position.

Please note that all Activist Positions (excluding Workplace Contacts) require the support of two UNISON Members from within your Employer or Workplace.

If you would like further information, or an informal chat about getting more involved in your Branch, please email us at

Activist Nomination Form

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