This autumn, members will pick a new leader for UNISON in our general secretary election. The general secretary is the most senior role in the union and speaks on behalf of members to other unions, the media, employers and governments. It’s important that as many members as possible take part and vote for the person who will best represent them.
It’s no secret that fewer people are voting in elections – and that applies to UNISON too. And these are difficult times for our members, with so many of them working so hard to fight the pandemic and keep our services running – in our hospitals, emergency services, care homes, schools, councils and so many more. But deciding who leads UNISON is a big decision and one we only take once every five years.
Branches have a key role in increasing participation; helping to spread the word about this election and encouraging members to have their say.
This is not about promoting any one candidate – there are strict rules to ensure that UNISON branches don’t use any branch funds, property or resources to campaign for any one candidate in the election – with the one exception that, if your branch has nominated a candidate, you can advise members of this nomination using up to 100 words and your usual channel of communications. If you intend to do this, please check the election procedures here.
This guide is all about that vital work of increasing participation by making sure your members know there is an election coming soon, explaining why it matters and encouraging them to vote – whoever they vote for.
Here are 10 things you can do
- Use any branch communications you have planned to let members know about the election, the key dates and why it is important to use their vote.
- Include an item about the election in any branch and workplace meetings – whether they are in person or online. You can use the information here.
- If your workplace is open and you have access to noticeboards, download our poster here to put up on all your workplace boards.
- Keep an eye on the website for updates and new materials to share as we get closer to the ballot opening.
- Follow the national union’s Facebook page and Twitter feed for regular updates.
- Share the national union’s social media posts about the election.
- Once the ballot opens, encourage your members to have their say and use their vote.
- Reassure members that the ballot pack will contain all the information they need to make their choice – there will be statements from each candidate to help them decide.
- If members have lost or not received a ballot paper by 10 November, you can let them know that they can call the ballot hotline on 0800 0 857 857 for a replacement.
- Remind members that they must return their ballot papers (freepost) to arrive by 5pm November 27.
More information for activists is available in our election Q&A