About the international unit

UNISON’s international policy includes contact with international organisations and sister unions abroad, sharing experiences, solidarity work and involving members to defend and promote public services and the people who provide them. The work is co-ordinated by UNISON’s international unit who report to the national executive council international committee.

Contact with unions abroad

UNISON has links with sister unions throughout the world, and puts UNISON branches and regions in touch with their counterparts abroad. Learning from other trade unionists is a vital way of strengthening our own movement.

Solidarity work

Solidarity means speaking out when fellow trade unionists are under threat – in Colombia, Burma or Zimbabwe, for instance. Solidarity also means working with sister trade unions to build their organisations on their own terms.

UNISON is regularly involved in a number of projects which aim to assist trade unions abroad to increase their capacity, to defend their rights and to enable them to promote development by improving the lives of working people and creating a more just society.

Working with international organisations

To promote the policies and interests of its members, UNISON works with several international trade union organisations, including Public Services International (PSI), Union Network International (UNI) and the European Public Service Union (EPSU).

Sharing experiences

Many unions in different parts of the world face similar challenges to our own – e.g. privatisation, austerity and inequality. The international unit keeps UNISON informed about international developments on these key issues so that we can better look after members’ interests. And the unit also handles requests from sister unions who want to learn about UK experiences.

Involving members

UNISON encourages members to get involved in international work through their branches who may appoint a branch international officer or through their regions, many of which have international committees/forums. The international unit also provides support to branch activists and organises seminars to help them to promote international work in their branches and regions.

Our international activity

  • Recent events demonstrate why our international activity matters.
  • Six Zimbabwean trade union activists charged with treason for watching a video about the popular uprising in Egypt.
  • Colombian human rights defender Alfonso Castillo went into hiding after receiving threats from a paramilitary death squad known as the “Black Eagles”.
  • Police raided and shut down electricity unions across Iraq.
  • Unions in Swaziland banned from discussing issues or associate with groups deemed to be “political”.