Activist courses and development opportunities

When you start representing UNISON in any official capacity there are courses available to help you carry out your role with confidence and offer the best possible support to members.


Activist Training pathways

We offer a range of courses from getting started as a union representative to developing your branch and building the union.

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New reps – where to get support

Our reps and activists need support and information, help and advice: even more so if you’re new to the role. That is why we provide specific union support for new reps, stewards, activists and branch officers.

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Finding time

Information for reps on your right to take time off from work to undertake union duties and training, and time-management guidelines for how to make the most effective use of your time.

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Branch development

The branch development plan is a key tool in delivering the organising agenda at branch level, recruiting new members and building a stronger union. Here are some handy tips on how to achieve the bigger, stronger union we all want.

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Recruiting members

Recruiting is important: the more of us there are, the louder our voice and the stronger we are in defence of each other. We know there are many potential UNISON members working in providing public services: but how do we get them to join? Our quick guides, FAQs and resources will help.

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Negotiating and bargaining

Most UNISON branch officers, stewards and safety representatives will negotiate with employers at some time – it is how branches can make sure they protect and promote the interests of their members. The keys to success are organisation, preparation and teamwork.

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Political education

Political education helps raise awareness about how we can help challenge attacks on public services, and campaign for greater rights for working people.

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Supporting members

Supporting members means listening to their concerns and helping them to take action, whether that is dealing with their queries and questions, negotiating and bargaining with and for groups of members or representing individuals in formal or informal proceedings.

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Organising collective action

Nothing is more important than winning new members and getting our existing members involved in their union: acting collectively to promote and protect their interests and solve problems at work.

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Union reps and activists need to communicate at all levels in the workplace and beyond: with members, with employers, with service users and the wider community, and with local and national politicians and decision makers.

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Securing recognition in a workplace

Much of the core work of a trade union involves working with employers. Most successful working relationships between unions and employers depend on a clear agreement between the two.

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Become a learning rep or a lifelong learning advisor

UNISON’s union learning representatives (URLs) help other members and colleagues access educational opportunities and move on at work. They have the legal right to take reasonable time off from work to promote workplace learning and development.

If you are interested in education and enjoy helping other people, by becoming a union learning representative you could help encourage your colleagues to return to learning, while expanding your own knowledge and skills at the same time.

Contact your regional education officer if you’re interested in finding out more.