Page 1: Introduction
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 are UNISON branches in all sorts of organisations in the UK.
Role of a union
As a trade union, UNISON represents and supports its members in issues at work. It looks after their welfare and campaigns for changes on their behalf. UNISON also has a role in local and national negotiations and in collective bargaining. This is where UNISON negotiates with employers and groups of employers for all of its members collectively.
One of its key roles is in campaigning on behalf of members. This could be for changes that will benefit members such as better wages or working conditions or against policies that threaten members’ jobs. UNISON therefore campaigns against government spending cuts that will have a negative impact on public services and those employed in this sector.
UNISON, on behalf of its members, has concentrated its campaign efforts over the past two years on the future of public services and the challenges that they face from government cuts. Public sector cuts planned by the coalition government in 2012 would mean more than 730,000 public service job cuts.
This case study looks at organisational structures and how UNISON’s structure is designed to allow it to make decisions and respond to changes quickly in order to help its members.