Structure, democracy and elections

Democracy is key to UNISON’s structure and values – we are proud to be a member-led union as set out in our rules.

This means all members have a right to take part in making the decisions which define what work we do, our campaigns and priorities.

All members’ voices should be heard. It is important to take part in ballots to make your views known and in elections to decide who represents you at the workplace, in your branch and at regional and national level.

UNISON rules


Every UNISON member is a member of a branch. At the beginning of the year, each branch holds an annual general meeting, which elects the officers of the branch and branch committee.

Contact us to find your branch.

Regional council and committee

Each branch is also part of a region and elects delegates to the regional council.

This consists of delegates from branches, service groups and self-organised groups and meets regularly throughout the year to oversee the work of the union in your region.

One of those meetings is an annual general meeting where your delegates elect smaller regional committees to carry out work between regional council meetings, plus office holders including a regional convenor, who is the senior lay officer of the union in the region.

The convenor, along with any deputies and other regional officers – such as a financial convenor – is an ordinary member of the union, not an employee.

Dates for our regional meetings can be found on our Events page


Other regional structures

UNISON’s service groups (bringing together members working in specific services) and member groups (women, Black members, disabled members, LGBT members, young members and retired members) also have a regional structure which members take part in.

Your voice

As a union member you have the right to vote in elections to decide who sits on these committees and structures.

You also have the right to stand for election to any of these bodies, at branch, regional or national level.

All UNISON elections are governed by the principles of “proportionality and fair representation”.

This means the make-up of all elected bodies in the union must represent the make-up of the membership – so you will often find some seats on committees etc. reserved for women or low-paid members, for instance, to make sure this happens.