Page 2: The wider role
Trades Unions represent workers' views not only to employers but also to government. This is especially important for UNISON as the government is the ultimate employer in the public sector. UNISON advises the government, both as a union in its own right and also as a member of the Trades Union Congress (TUC). It also lobbies for what it sees as necessary changes in the law.
In UNISON's view, it is vital for it to have a role in national policy making because it represents so many key workers in important industries. It also has a role in Parliament. UNISON sponsors some MPs and submits motions for discussion by Parliament.
Among the employment rights that UNISON has helped to secure are:
- Working Time Regulations that protect workers from having to work excessive hours
- the National Minimum Wage
- improved (and better paid) maternity and paternity leave
- protection against discrimination
- protection from unfair dismissal.
UNISON can look to influence government policy by seeking manifesto commitments from the party in power. At the Labour Party's recent national policy forum, for example, UNISON succeeded in reaching agreement on key issues in the workplace and, in particular, in the public sector.
The commitments include an end to two-tier workforces in the public sector; a government commitment to work in partnership with trades unions, and action in fields such as pension protection, professional development, and fairness at work. A full list of the pledges can be found at: