The Organising Steward (online course)

IT learning © Jess Hurd/


When will it start?

The next course will begin on:

  • 5th July 2021

Please also check your regional website for online new stewards’ courses being run in your area.

Regional education teams

Aims of course

The course will cover the same material as the face-to-face Stage 1 + Stage 2 workplace representatives course combination, and will help you:

  • understand the role of an organising union in the public services
  • recognise the importance of equalities in UNISON
  • work with members to tackle issues in the workplace
  • work with members in resolving cases
  • know where and when to seek advice and guidance
  • understand how procedures work in practice
  • handle grievance and disciplinary and similar types of cases as the representative of UNISON members within your workplace
  • be certified as competent to accompany members at a disciplinary or grievance hearing in order to comply with the Employment Relations Act 1999
  • understand the broader roles in which UNISON operates, including internationally

What will an online course involve?

The course will use the same high quality materials, the same tutor support, and the same networking with other UNISON stewards, as the face-to-face course, but will be accessed online from your workplace or local/employer learning centre. It will be delivered in a friendly, encouraging way by expert tutors.

You will access the course via the Internet and work interactively on tasks with tutors and other course participants. Course activities contain discussion forums, quizzes and workplace activities.

You will need to spend approximately 4-5 hours per week over a seven week period.

How will the online course work?

The course is delivered using a web-based learning environment and you can access course materials whenever is convenient for you. The course includes some group work, where you will be expected to work with fellow learners. At the start of the course, the tutor will set a timetable outlining the activities that will need to be completed and a date when they should be submitted.

It has been identified that participants find this course easier to do and are more likely to complete when they have support in place. Those who don’t have support have a higher drop-out rate and may have a negative learning experience. Please contact your branch to ask if they can provide a mentor to support you.

Do I need good IT skills to take part?

The minimum requirement is the ability to send an email and know how to access the Internet.

How much will it cost?

The course is free to you.

Will I get paid time off?

Online learning should not be seen as an alternative to paid release from work. The law that says that trade union reps are entitled to reasonable paid time off for education and training still applies to online courses, whether learning takes place away from work or in work, at your workstation or your employer’s learning centre. Talk to your manager about what makes sense to you.

How do I apply?

You will need to apply online. National UNISON online stewards courses will be listed on our Events page. You should check your regional education programme for courses in your area.

National UNISON courses

In your region

Please also tell your branch and your manager that you have applied.

When will I hear if I have a place?

You will be contacted no later than two weeks before the course starts.

Training for workplace representatives

Photograph © Jess Hurd/