Developing responsiveness through organisational structure
A UNISON case study

Page 1: Introduction

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UNISON is the UK’s biggest public service trade union. It represents 1.3 million members who deliver essential services to the public. These are services that protect, enrich and change lives. Its members work in all areas of public service. They work in hospitals, town halls, universities, colleges, schools, social services and clinics. Most people in the UK rely on these services. There...
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Page 2: The structure of an organisation

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Organisational structure refers to how the workers within a business are organised and how they relate to each other. A visual representation of the structure can be shown in an organisation chart. This shows who has authority over whom and the different roles that workers carry out. Certain organisational structures suit particular types of organisations. This will depend on the size of the...
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Page 3: Managing organisational structures

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The type of structure that a business has reflects how it behaves. It defines its culture or way of working. A highly centralised, hierarchical structure means an organisation is run from the top. It may have a well-known person at its head who makes most of the decisions. A decentralised structure is likely to create a much more democratic culture, where everyone’s opinion is valued...
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Page 4: Job roles within a trade union

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Within most large organisations there are roles at different levels within the hierarchy such as directors, managers, team leaders, supervisors and operatives. UNISON is no different. The qualities and skills needed for these roles are different. For example, those at the top of the hierarchy will have to think more strategically and may need greater leadership skills than those lower down...
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Page 5: Careers and training at UNISON

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At the local level, a recent addition has been the role of ‘fighting fund organisers’. Faced with huge cuts to public services, UNISON is recruiting over 100 such fighting fund organisers. These people need to have good analytical and presentation skills. They will undertake an induction training programme which prepares them to go into workplaces and recruit members. These fighting...
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Page 6: Conclusion

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UNISON, as the UK’s largest public service union, has a responsibility to support its members in the face of current challenges. These include massive cuts to public services. This means supporting not just members, but also their families and all those who rely on public services. To meet these aims, UNISON has a clear structure. Within this, there are defined roles and responsibilities...
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