UNISON is divided into 12 regions across the UK. The region is the main link between neighbouring branches and between branches and UNISON’s national executive council.
In each region, lay officers and full-time organisers work together on behalf of members and to promote the union’s local and national objectives.
Regional staff and offices
Each region has a regional office, staffed by full-time union organisers, to support the work of the branches and liaise with head office.
The regional office develops and supports:
- local and national campaigning;
- negotiating and bargaining priorities and strategies;
- representation of members;
- organising and recruitment;
- actions against discrimination;
- education and training opportunities for members.
The regional team also makes sure that the members are fairly represented in the branch structures and when they send delegates to national conference. Finally, they ensure that the union has a voice on outside bodies, such as the TUC regional council.
The regional secretary is the union’s senior full-time organiser in each region.
Your local organiser is the person who works closely with your branch reps on recruitment, campaigning and educational opportunities. They make sure that all members feel part of their branch and become actively involved in the union. They will organise recruitment campaigns, often based around local workplace issues.
Local organisers work with an area organiser, who is also based in the regional centre. Area organisers are responsible for ensuring that our branches are strong and well-organised. They support the regional organisers in representing members in collective negotiations.
Regional organisers oversee the work of the local and area organisers. They take on a more strategic role, entering negotiations with employers and representing members in collective negotiations.
Regional organisers play a leadership role in the union, and act as advocates of the organisation and its reputation both to members and in the wider world of employment and politics.
They work with the regional secretary to implement national policy in their region, and to develop campaign strategies. These might be campaigns about recruiting new members, and are often based around broader political issues.
The full-time organisers also liaise with UNISON’s general secretary and head office to implement the union’s national policy objectives, which are set by member delegates at conference every year.
In each regional office, equality officers specialise in discrimination issues of all kinds. There is a member of staff who is a contact for each of the member and self-organised groups. These represent: black members, women, young members, retired members, disabled members and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members.
Lay members and regional council
The structure of elected lay members works in parallel to the structure of full-time organisers.
Branches elect delegates to the regional council, which decides the union’s regional policies. Regional council is made up of delegates from all branches in the region, as well as representatives of the member, self-organised and service groups.
The senior lay person in each region is the convenor, who is elected by the regional council. The convenor is elected at the regional council every year. He or she is supported by other elected officials from the regional council.
Each region delegates to the annual national delegate conference in June. Delegates representing all the branches, regions, service groups and self organised groups come together to vote on the union’s priorities and objectives for the coming year.
Regional delegates are then elected onto the national executive council (NEC) which is the union’s main democratic policy-making body. Each region has a set number of representatives.