The key to branch organisation is the steward system. Its aim is to have a steward for every 25 members. Stewards are elected at the workplace or for occupational groups. There is also a Health & Safety rep system, with many stewards doubling up on the role.
Members elect branch stewards and officers who are lay activists and who work for the council, voluntary sector or associated bodies. They are supported by a full time officer.
The branch works on the principle that members have the key input to any decision and nothing can be negotiated on their behalf without their agreement.
The branch has an office at 60 Belford Road staffed by a Branch Support Officer and a Branch Support Assistant. These are adminsitrative staff and they do not represent individual members.
These are the supreme branch policy making meetings and are open to all members. The AGM in February elects branch officers and can change rules as well as setting policies. At least 200 members need to attend for the meetings to go ahead. Any two members can put motions to meetings and voting is normally by a show of hands (or ballot for elections).
Stewards are elected at workplaces by members yearly to serve from January to December. They in turn elect a convenor and vice convenors for the department or sector and delegates to the branch committee.
Shop Stewards Committees: Made up of all stewards in each department or sector. These deal with issues in your department and most have a Joint Consultative Structure through which they meet management regularly. They represent your views through workplace or departmental meetings and elect delegates to the branch committee.
Departmental Meetings: Open to all members in each department or sector. They mandate stewards’ Departmental Committees and are called by Stewards Conveners. Members mandate their own stewards via Workplace Meetings.
Consists of about 80 members made up of branch officers, stewards elected from Departmental Committees and from self organised groups. Steward delegates are accountable to their Stewards Committees. Structures ensure that stewards outnumber branch officers.
The Committee meets monthly to deal with the running of the branch. Oversees work of all other committees. The plan to ensure proportionality of women, fair representation for APT&C, Manual & Craft and low paid workers is developing with most Stewards Committees complying.
UNISON’s Scottish forum of delegates from all branches. There are also specific structures (service groups) for services like Local Government, and sectors for groups like the Voluntary Sector. These deal with issues like pay and conditions and are made up by reps nominated and elected by branches.
UNISON’s supreme policy making body made up of delegates from branches. Also Conferences for each individual service group (eg Local Government).
Elected by ballot of all members, with some candidates elected on regional constituencies (eg Scotland) and some nationally by service group. Implements, interprets and sets policy between conferences. Members are lay officers who have jobs like the rest of us. There are also Service Group Executives (eg Local Government), also elected by ballot.
The General Secretary is a full time paid official who is elected every five years by a ballot of all members. They are accountable to the National Executive and National Conference.
Self Organised Groups
Parallel structures for members who have been historically disadvantaged or traditionally under-represented. UNISON recognises the following groups: Women, Black members, Disabled members and LGBT+ members. We also have important structures for Young members and Retired members. They have two reps each on the branch committee.