Types of Steward/Rep: Health and Safety Steward/Rep, and Workplace Steward/Rep.
The UNISON steward is the fundamental building block of workplace organisation. UNISON is committed to identifying, supporting and training as many members as possible to take on the role of steward or workplace contact. Stewards might be active in different ways and to different degrees depending on their willingness and experience ranging from high-level negotiators to local contacts in the workplace.
Stewards in workplaces where UNISON is recognised by the employer like the University of Birmingham have rights to time off for training and to carry out their work (such as meetings with members and managers, and some other union work). Stewards have a right to be involved in how their branch is run and are the most important link between the members and the union. UNISON aims to have at least one steward in each workplace and department, more in larger departments and where members work shifts. Stewards are elected each year by the group of members that they represent and the post is open to job share. They engage in different levels of activity depending on their experience, skills and the time they are able to commit.
Tasks relating to the post of steward:
to be the first and main point of contact for members with the union
to recruit new members
to work with members to establish an organised workplace
to support and advise members on workplace issues
to act as a spokesperson for the members they represent and for the branch
to represent members with the employer, dependent on their experience and confidence
to represent members within the branch committee
to be answerable to the members they represent.
The role of the Health and Safety Steward/Rep:
Do you believe that everyone should be able to work without having their health damaged by their job? The UNISON University of Birmingham branch does. If you share that belief, why not become a UNISON Health and Safety rep?
Our reps help us make workplaces safer. There are 12,000 reps across the UK and we are looking for members to join them as there really is safety in numbers.
Ask any safety rep and they will tell you that this important position is one of the most rewarding in the union.
Safety reps have specific duties, as well as some very important legal rights including the powers to:
- Investigate complaints on behalf of members
- Take up issues they notice or that members bring to their attention
- Carry out health and safety inspections of the work place at least four times a year
- Demand information relevant to the health and safety of employees
- Have time off, with pay, to do their job as health and safety rep and attend trade union courses.
You don’t need to be a health and safety expect to consider taking on this role as UNISON provides comprehensive training for all our reps. The University of Birmingham branch is very keen to recruit more safety reps. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, please contact us!