Conference debates the future of the NHS. Photo: Marcus Rose

Service groups

Nationally UNISON is organised into service groups, which are made up of all the members working in the same sector.

Every member of UNISON is in a service group, and they make sure that UNISON’s services stay relevant and useful to all members.

In a service group you can better support your fellow members by bringing specialist help and experience to their co-workers and UNISON members nationally.

Together with other UNISON members, you can work towards equality and exercise your employment rights. Whether you face a particular issue or have an idea to improve life at work, UNISON gives you a voice.

How service groups can help you

Service groups can resolve problems related to unfair conditions and pay by using collective bargaining and negotiation. This is the way trade unions work to improve working conditions and pay.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly or are facing difficulties at work, you can contact your service group for sector-specific, confidential advice. Local service groups may report workplace issues to the regional or national UNISON structure so issues can be compared with other locations.

Members of service groups may also bring the specialist help and experience to better support your case if you are raising a grievance against your employer.

List of service groups

UNISON has seven service groups:

  • Health – including nurses, midwives, health visitors, paramedics and cleaners.
  • Local government – including housing officers, probation officers and council staff.
  • Higher education – including teaching and support staff.
  • Police and justice – including police staff and probation workers.
  • Community – people working for charities, housing associations, non-profit organisations and grant-aided projects.
  • Water, environment and transport – workers at passenger transport executives, bus companies, British Waterways and regional airports as well as scientists, technicians, industrial workers and call centre staff, among others.
  • Energy – those who work in the electricity and gas industries.

Service group executives and democracy

Every member is entitled to stand for election for the service group executive, which oversees each service group, including matters such as national bargaining.

These elections take place every two years, between elections to the national executive council.

You also have a right to seek election a delegate to your annual service group conference, representing colleagues in your branch.