Branch democracy

One of the responsibilities that come with being a member of a trade union is active participation in its democratic decisions. Please attend meetings, respond to emails when reps need information/advice from you, and always vote during indicative and formal ballots.

Overview of branch democracy

UNISON is a member led trade union. The key part of our trade union democracy is your local branch, Birmingham University UNISON. We hold regular branch meetings on the Edgbaston Campus which are normally run twice, once a lunchtime and once in the early evening to help people to attend.

Branch meetings

Branch meetings normally only last up to an hour and are the place where decisions are made on pay offers, negotiations with the University on workplace policies such as attendance monitoring, car parking, shift allowance etc.

They also vote on wider issues which affect UNISON members, for example governments cutbacks to vital public services.

Any member can raise an issue at a branch meeting. There are two ways you can do this, either ask for an issue to be placed on the agenda for discussion, preferably a week before the branch meeting, or if you want the branch to adopt a formal policy to take action on an issue you can write a motion and ask any other member to second it. For help and advice on this please contact any member of the branch committee, we’re always happy to help.

Branch Elections

Every year at our AGM (Annual General Meeting), you elect a branch committee. The current committee are listed under Contacts. Any member can stand for election. An email will go out in advance of the AGM and a candidate form will be available to be downloaded. The branch committee are responsible for the day-to-day running of the branch. You don’t have to wait for the AGM to get involved, if there is a vacancy or you want to help out then just get in touch – there’s always something to do!

Your local branch AGM is held every year between 1st January and 31st March. Advance notice will be given along with details of how to submit motions and stand for election to both your local branch committee and to national positions. If you have any questions please contact the branch chair.

Regional Structure

The wider work of UNISON is also led by elected members. As a branch we elect delegates to UNISON regional council which overseas and coordinates to the work of UNISON across the West Midlands. For more information on UNISON in the region go to UNISON West Midlands.

National Structure

All Higher Education branches are grouped into one Higher Education Service Group. This deals with issues that come up sector wide, for example national pay bargaining or changes to Higher Education such as the government White paper on Higher Education.

A Higher Education national executive committee is elected every 2 years. Members are nominated by their local branch and elections are run across all branches in each region. The HE National Executive meets around 5 – 7 times per year. West Midlands is entitled to 2 members and currently only has one (Matt Raine).

A Higher Education conference is held every year, with delagates elected by each branch, to decide national HE policy and a branch seminar is held for delagates from each branch to be meet, discuss and learn from each other about current issues.

For more information on the UNISON Higher Education Service Group go to UNISON in Higher Education.

Branch Rules

To help ensure we have a democratic branch we have a set of local branch rules which can be downloaded below:


They can be amended by any quorate General Branch meeting with two thirds of members voting in favour as long as they remain consistent with the national rule book.

To request a copy of the national rule book, please call UNISON nationally on 0845 355 0845.