Getting to grips with GDPR: what you really need to know

What were you doing in May?

You might have been booking accommodation for last-minute visitors to National Delegate Conference. You might have been putting the finishing touches to a Learning At Work Week celebration.

And you were almost certainly wading through an inbox full of emails from organisations you support, or from companies from whom you once bought a single item in 2008, desperately pleading with you to stay on their mailing lists, before the GDPR came in.

But now all the fuss has died down, what do you really need to know about the General Data Protection Regulation? What does it mean for you as a UNISON activist?

Whatever your role in the UNISON branch, the chances are that you will have to deal with members’ personal data in some way. Whether you’re a treasurer, authorising expenses, an education co-ordinator, recording who’s attended training, or a steward, mapping where you’ve got members in your workplace, the requirement is likely to affect you. And, because membership of a trade union is classed as ‘sensitive personal data’, it requires extra care.

UNISON has developed an e-note – a short online learning module – that takes you through the basics of GDPR. It outlines the requirements of the new regulations and explains how you can help keep members’ data safe.

You’ll find the e-note on our e-learning site in the ‘More for activists’ section. If you haven’t used the site before, you’ll need to create an account. (We’ve been finding recently that confirmation emails are being blocked by employers’ firewalls, so if you experience any problems creating an account, please email us on

Alongside the e-note, you’ll find some useful resources including the Branch Data Protection Handbook and recordings of webinars by the TUC and by UNISON on what the GDPR means for unions.

We have some more e-notes coming over the next couple of months – keep an eye out for Introduction for Branch Treasurers, the updated Branch Welfare Officers‘ pre-course module, and an overview of some of the Activist Roles you might be interested in taking up. In the meantime, enjoy exploring what’s already on the site (we’ve got Introduction to ApprenticeshipsDyslexia Awareness, and more), and we hope you find the Data Protection e-note useful.