Our statement on modern slavery

This statement is made pursuant to section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for the financial year ending 31 December 2016.

UNISON’s structure, business and supply chains

UNISON has more than 1,200 employees and an annual turnover in excess of £36m. UNISON operates as a trade union to represent workers providing public services. The union is organised nationally, regionally and at branch level.

UNISON’s head office is in London and there are 32 regional offices and mroe than 1,000 branches. UNISON is a complex organisation with a wide range of third party suppliers.

As a trade union, UNISON is concerned with working conditions and employment rights of its 1.3m members, working people in the UK and workers’ rights globally.

UNISON welcomes this legislation and recognises the need to raise awareness, engage with the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking, and drive improvements through transparency of supply chains.

The union’s third party supply chains include goods and services for the effective running of the organisation as well as the provision of affiliated services for our members.

UNISON procures services and goods from third party providers predominantly based within the UK or EU.

UNISON slavery and human trafficking policies

UNISON is committed to ensuring there is no modern slavery or human trafficking within any part of its business or its supply chains.

UNISON’s procurement policy reflects the union’s commitment to acting ethically. The policy was updated in 2016 to include UNISON’s commitment to the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act.

UNISON’s Supplier Code of Conduct was updated in 2016 to include the Ethical Trade Initiative base code as the minimum labour standards it expects from its suppliers as well as compliance with the Modern Slavery Act.

UNISON has an international policy to support workers in the global South to access their rights and campaign in support of public services.

UNISON works with international human rights and labour rights’ groups, and offers support to international partners to challenge labour and human rights violations in countries identified as priority countries through the union’s policy.

UNISON is affiliated to a number of organisations including Anti-Slavery International, Banana Link, War on Want, Labour Behind the Label (part of the Clean Clothes Campaign) and Global Justice Now. UNISON’s international policy is determined by the union’s national delegate conference.

UNISON’s calendar of events include the UN World Day against Trafficking in Persons (30 July), Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition (23 August) and International Day for the Abolition of Slavery (2 December), to raise awareness of the crimes that affect millions of victims in the world.

UNISON also marks World Day for Decent Work on 7 October and engages in campaigns calling for abuses equivalent to slave labour to be eradicated.

UNISON due diligence procedures in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains

UNISON employs solely within the UK.

Our recruitment procedures ensure that all prospective employees are legally entitled to work in the UK. All successful applicants must produce ,on their first day, one of the following: their passport, their driving licence or their birth certificate (original documents only, no photocopies).

In addition, in order to comply with the Asylum and Immigration Act 1996 requirements, if they are from a non European Economic Area (EEA) country, evidence of a right to reside and work in the UK must be produced.

If UNISON is in the process of applying for a work permit for a prospective member of staff they cannot legally start work until it has been received.

UNISON is an accredited living wage employer. Our living wage accreditation ensures all direct and indirect employees are paid at least the minimum wage. UNISON carries out reasonable and practical due diligence in the sourcing of goods and services.

The union’s supplier vetting process requests information from potential suppliers to assess their suitability as a supplier and provide evidence of their compliance of labour standards, the Modern Slavery Act and the Asylum and Immigration Act, as well as covering other areas of company information, policies and procedures.

This enables the procurement team to identify and assess any potential risks.

Identifying, assessing and managing risk

UNISON understands that its largest exposure to modern slavery and human trafficking will come from its third party supply chains.

Key suppliers are expected to share the same values as UNISON and declare their compliance with UNISON’s Supplier Code of Conduct, which includes the Ethical Trade Initiative base code as minimum labour standards.

UNISON does not permit its key suppliers to subcontract work except where prior permission has been obtained.

As contracts are renewed with key suppliers we are including a new clause to ensure the Modern Slavery Act requirements are included within the terms and conditions of contract.

We have updated our terms and conditions of purchase to incorporate a new clause confirming UNISON’s commitment to ensuring slavery and human trafficking is not taking place, for any new contracts with key suppliers.

We are reviewing our existing suppliers for any risks and aim to risk profile our top 100 suppliers (by annual spend), by reviewing their industry sector, location and labour practices.

Staff training about slavery and human trafficking

UNISON’s central procurement team have all been trained in procurement ethics, including the issues of modern slavery and human trafficking and briefed on the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act.

Information has been circulated to all staff to raise general organisational awareness.


This statement shall be reviewed and published annually.


Josie Bird, chair of finance & resource management committee (NEC)

December 2016