Skilled, confident, knowledgeable: ensuring our reps have the training they need

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Our reps keep UNISON going. Whether they’re recruiting people to the union, ensuring that colleagues get the training they’re entitled to, making the case for healthy, safe workplaces, or accompanying members to grievance or disciplinary hearings, the work they do every day helps to make UNISON the strong, effective, cooperative union it is.

UNISON recognises that education plays a vital role to ensure all reps, whatever their UNISON role, are properly trained in a timely manner ensuring they have the confidence, knowledge and skills to carry out their role to the highest standard, it’s important for reps and of course it’s important for us as a union too.

Ever since 2010, UNISON has operated a Scheme of accreditation and recognition for reps that have statutory recognition in law i.e. stewards, health and safety reps and ULRs, which reflects both the demands of the law and what the union believes is appropriate training to ensure that all reps are trained to the highest standard.

Last year, a motion was passed at National Delegate Conference that has clarified and strengthened the Scheme to ensure that all reps, whatever their UNISON role, undertake introductory training within a year of being appointed to their UNISON  role.  This means that, whether you’re a steward, a ULR, equality or branch education co-ordinator, an officer for a self organised group, you should attend the training course for your role within a year of being appointed to your role.  You can find a copy of the Scheme here (Word download).

UNISON has also introduced the requirement that all reps also receive equality training, so that they are equipped to recognise workplace discrimination and harassment and have the confidence to challenge it. UNISON College has introduced a new course, Making Equality Central to your Union Practice, which will cover this requirement, as will the existing Equality In Your Branch course.

For more senior reps and branch officers who undertake representation and negotiation, they will need to attend the Challenging Racism in the Workplace course (CRW) and other appropriate equality training, such as UNISON’s advanced employment equality law courses, within three years of appointment.

So, what do you need to do? 

If you’re new in your UNISON role and haven’t yet received your introductory training, check your regional education programme and/or the national learning Events page to find a suitable course for you.

If you have attended your introductory training make sure you book yourself onto the next equality training course, and of course for stewards, H and S reps and ULRs there are follow on courses to undertake to help you develop in your role.

If you’re a branch secretary, make sure that you and anyone else in your branch who deals with negotiations get booked onto the Challenging Racism in the Workplace course as soon as you can.

And don’t forget if you’re a steward coming up to the five year mark since you received your introductory training, book onto an ERA Refresher course as soon as you can.

You can get more information from your branch education coordinator or by visiting your regional or the national UNISON college website.

The U-Train guide to UNISON activist training is being updated to include the new courses on offer and will be available soon.