What do Stewards do?

A UNISON steward is an elected representative whose role includes organising, recruiting and representing members.

Stewards in workplaces where UNISON is recognised by the employer have rights to time off for training and to carry out their work.

Stewards have a right to be involved in how their branch is run and are the most important link between the members and the union.

UNISON aims to have at least one steward in each workplace, they are elected each year by the group of members that they represent and the post is open to job share.

Stewards engage in different levels of activity depending on their experience, skills and the time they are able to commit.

  • A UNISON steward is the first and main point of contact with the union. They can seek further advice from the branch office staff if needed.
  • They also help to recruit and organise new members and work with members to establish an organised workplace.
  • He or she supports and advises members on workplace issues, both individual and collective, acting as a spokesperson for the members they represent. and inform and involve members in branch activity.
  • Being elected as a steward gives a workplace representative access to training by UNISON, regular UNISON mailings – including Focus, UNISON’s fortnightly newspaper – and access to UNISON advice and information.
  • Stewards working for employers that officially recognise UNISON also have rights to paid time off for training, meetings with members and managers, and some other union work.
  • One of the most vital jobs of a steward is to recruit new members. Organised workplaces with a high density of union membership means UNISON will have much greater influence with local management and with employers.

How to Become a Steward

Any group of members can elect a workplace representative. This group is known as the representative’s constituency.

Members should arrange a meeting or postal/email ballot to elect their steward. Please contact the branch for guidance and help in organising this. Stewards should be elected annually.