Roles in your branch

It takes various roles and a lot of work to cover all the business of a union branch—whether that’s representing individual members, promoting equality in the workplace, conducting health and safety inspections, working on Council policy, researching social issues, attending committees… the list goes on!

There is quality training available for all reps. Unite provide accredited training for each role, where you meet Unite activists from across different workplaces. Your branch runs monthly training sessions covering specific topics, such as Council policies.

Learn about the different roles below.

Branch officials


The role of branch secretary is vital for our democracy. They:

  • bring members together – arranging meetings, keeping records and communicating with members.
  • look after branch funds – all Branches have their own funds to help meet the costs of day to day running and the secretary (along with the Treasurer) ensures that the finances are correctly recorded and reported.
  • work with reps to ensure that the union is strong in their workplace
  • ensuring that the branch has a say in union elections and policy making – submitting nominations and motions for conferences.

chair (convener)

The chair presides over all meetings of the branch, keeps order and ensures that business is conducted in accordance with the union’s rules and branch standing orders. The Chair works closely with the branch secretary to draw up meeting agendas, verify minutes and signs officials documents; is impart and is seen to act fairly.


The treasurer works in conjunction with the branch secretary to ensure that the finances of the branch are correctly recorded and reported. They prepare the paperwork for the quarterly audit by the regional administration. The rules allow for the positions of treasurer and secretary to be held by the same person.

Equalities Officer

Raises awareness and promotes equality of opportunity in the branch.

Advises and supports members in relation to equality issues.

Encourages participation of women, BAEM, LGBT and disabled members at all levels and promotes education for minority groups.

Scrutinise equalities impact assessments and act as a staff representative on these.

Represents the branch on the Diversity and Inclusion Focus Group to drive equalities in the Council.

Work with the Council’s colleague networks to ensure equalities issues are raised effectively.

union Learning rep

Raise awareness of the benefits of learning.

Encourages fellow workers to take up learning opportunities.

Support members in learning.

Provide advice and guidance on learning.

Secure equal opportunities in learning.


Workplace reps (shop stewards)

Make a difference in their workplace by supporting, advising and representing members.

Problem solving, communication, negotiating and influencing skills will be a key feature of the reps job.

Allowed paid time off for trade union duties and training.

Reps attend meetings with management, including the Joint Consultative Committees for their area and other meetings with the Council’s leadership.

Health and safety reps

Investigate potential hazards and dangerous occurrences at the workplace and examine the causes of accidents at the workplace.

Investigate complaints by any employee relating to health, safety or welfare at work.

Take up health, safety or welfare issues with the employer.

Carry out regular inspections representing workers in talks with the employer or the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and other agencies.

Attending meetings of safety committees.

Health and safety reps are allowed paid time off for duties, inspections and training.

Environment rep

Work with your employer and members carry out an environmental survey of the workplace.

Encourage and assist members with advice on how to reduce their carbon footprint at work.

Work with reps, community activists and councillors to ensure the Council commits to reducing their climate emissions effectively and fairly. This includes a firm understanding and critical attention to the Council’s climate strategy.