UNISON is proud to be a member-led union. Democracy is central to our structure and our achievements have been won as a representative, democratic union where everyone has an equal voice.
Every member of UNISON belongs to a branch. Branches are the basic unit of the union. They are made up of groups of members working for the same employer or several employers in the same area, and within each branch there are established democratically elected positions.
Branches are the main place where you will get access to help and advice and take part in the democracy of the union.
Our branches vary enormously in size, spread and make-up. Some have many thousands of members, others are much smaller.
One of the most important people in your branch, and in UNISON, is your steward. They will be the first point of contact for most UNISON members. They are volunteers, elected every year by colleagues in the workplace.
Each year, the branch holds an annual general meeting where members elect a branch secretary and other key officers whose job is to make sure the branch works effectively, members are supported, and UNISON’s influence grows.
Larger branches may also employ branch staff to administer a branch office and carry out other support work for members.
Each branch is also part of a region and elects delegates to the regional council.
In the Eastern region there are branches across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.
Each UNISON region has a regional council, a group of elected delegates who oversee the work of the region, representing and supporting members.
All branches in the region elect delegates to the regional council. There are also delegates from each service group, which are made up of members working in specific sectors such as local government, and there are delegates from self-organised groups, which are groups of members affected by the same discrimination issues such as women or disabled members.
The annual general meeting of the regional council elects a regional convenor. The regional convenor is the senior lay member. The convenor, along with any deputies and other regional officers – such as a financial convenor – is an ordinary member of the union, not an employee.
In the Eastern region the regional council meets four times a year. The regional convenor is Darren Barber and the deputy regional convenor is Becky Tye.
There are also regional structures for each of UNISON’s seven service groups and for membership groups.
UNISON Eastern staff
UNISON also employs staff in the region to support branches and members, including regional organisers, area organisers and local organiser who work closely with branches.
Staff in UNISON Eastern are headed by full-time regional secretary Glyn Hawker.
UNISON’s national structure includes national service groups, which bring together members working in specific services, such as health or local government.
Find out more about service groups.
Self-organised groups are one of the ways UNISON works towards equality. While everyone shares responsibility for equality at UNISON, our equality work includes groups for members who experience particular types of prejudice and discrimination. These groups meet locally and nationally to discuss, campaign and organise around the specific issues that affect them. They help UNISON understand equality and meet our equality aims.
Find out more about UNISON’s self organised groups and the work they do to tackle inequality.