About UNISON and the Branch

UNISON was formed in 1993 when three public sector trade unions merged:

  • NALGO was especially active in local government
  • COHSE was based in the NHS
  • the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) represented many members in Higher Education and was already active at the University of Kent well before the time of the merger.

In Higher Education UNISON traditionally represents staff who work in ‘non-academic roles’ in grades 1-6. We have a very diverse membership though inevitably this reflects some of the imbalances that typify the University staff population generally. Female members significantly outnumber male, which is true of UNISON as a whole.

Our members are based at Canterbury and at Medway and include:

  • cleaners, porters, and other staff within Estates and Commercial Services
  • Campus Security, hospitality, library, and other staff in key worker roles
  • professional services staff within central and devolved roles as well as within the Divisions
  • some members within Kent Union and other local workplaces are also members of this Branch.

UNISON negotiates terms and conditions on behalf of this sub-set of the University’s staff, with pay and pension arrangements generally negotiated at national level (with a consortium of Higher Education institutions). All other relevant matters are negotiated locally and when it comes to representing our members we do this at branch level whenever possible. Where necessary we can call upon the expertise of regional officers and legal advisers. To find out more about this please see Representing members.

Unlike some larger branches, UNISON at Kent is run entirely by volunteers. Stewards and Officers – many people fulfil both roles – are able to attend to union duties during their working hours. We have negotiated some “facilities time” on top of this. We also have the input and assistance of retired members. An office is provided for trades unions in Rutherford College. Branch officers are elected by members at our Annual General Meeting and form a Branch Committee that meets throughout the year.

Last updated: 25/11/2020