Advice & Information

Regional Education & Training Committee

Education & Training Committee Membership

Name / Elected by / Branch

Wendy Bond / Regional Council / Wolverhampton General

Chiman Karadia / Regional Council / Walsall General

Amelia Rout / Regional Council / Staffordshire University

Kay Urwin / Regional Council / City of Stoke-on-Trent

Paulette Whyte / Regional Council / Wolverhampton General

Sophie Wood / Regional Council / LGBT SOG

Sharon Carby-McLean / Black Members SOG / Birmingham LG

Phil O’ Shea / Community Service Group / West Midlands Community

Linda Woods / Health Service Group / Birmingham Public & Private Healthcare

Andrew Rawlinson / Local Government / Telford Branch

VACANT / Police & Justice Service Group /

Paul Wellington / WET Service Group / Central Water

VACANT / Central Energy /



Regional Council Officers are ex-officio members of the E&T Committee.

These are:

Sue Laws - Regional Convenor

Jenny Forbes - Assistant Convenor

Cathy Bayton - Assistant Convenor

Malcolm Cantello - Regional Financial Officer

Dates of Committee Meetings 2018

All meetings start at 10.30 am and finish no later than 1.00 pm and will be held at the Regional Office in Birmingham. If you want to have something considered by the committee please inform the Regional Education Officer at least 7 days before the date of the meeting.

The dates for the committee meetings in 2018 are:

Friday 16 February

Friday 18 May

Friday 7 September

Friday 7 December

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UNISON National Courses

The National UNISON Activist Programme

Learning & Organising Services arranges a national programme of courses for activists who wish to develop indepth skills and knowledge on courses which are not usually provided by regions.

Branch Welfare Officers Training Programme

Training for Branch Welfare Officers is provided by "There for You", UNISON's dedicated welfare organisation, in partnership with UNISON Regions.

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Expenses, Allowances & Childcare

The general “rule in UNISON is no one should be expected to be “out of pocket” because of attending the training they need as a union activist or member. Branches are responsible for paying expenses and should ensure that information on the conditions and rates are freely available.

It is important that applications for both for TUC and UNISON courses are signed by the branch secretary or branch education officer. If this is not done the branch may refuse to pay expenses.

As far as possilbe all expenses claims should be supported by receipts.

Branches set their own rates of expenses. Set out below are the national rates of expenses as a guide.

Travel Expenses

By bus – At cost

By rail - Discounted fares or standard fares, whichever is the most cost/time effective.

By car - 45 pence per mile

Car parking - At cost

By Taxi – This is only paid in exception circumstances or where there is not a viable alternative. Prior approval must be given by the Branch or Regional Education Officer and with all claims for taxi fares must have a receipt.

Please note: All travel expenses claims should have attached copies of tickets and/or receipts wherever possible.


Lunch £7.50

Tea £3.75

Dinner £14.75 (applicable after 8pm)

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s allowances are available to cover the costs of looking after children, elderly parents or other family dependants. This is set at a maximum of £32.00 per day, a maximum of £16.00 per night for the first dependent, plus an additional 20% per dependent thereafter.

Approach to Childcare on Residential Courses

For those attending residential courses the region will provide a Carer’s Allowance and or a crèche. A crèche will only be arranged where this is requested by three participants who have children who will attend the crèche.

Please Note: Participants bringing children to a venue must use the childcare or crèche facilities arranged by UNISON.

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Branch Based Courses

If your branch requires a branch delivered course please contact the Regional Education Officer (REO)for activist courses, and the Regional Learning & Development Organiser (RDLO) for membership courses.

Advice on how to arrange a branch based course is set out below:

1) Contact needs to be made with the REO or the RDLO to discuss your branch’s training needs. This should be done on behalf of the branch, by the Branch Secretary, Branch Education Co-ordinator or another authorised Branch Officer.

2) There is a minimum requirement of 10 participants. If a branch cannot meet this minimum, contact should be made with neighbouring branches to make up the number; or ask your Regional Officer or the Regional Education Officer for advice. If you cannot meet the minimum number the region will not be able to provide a tutor.

3) The REO/RDLO will arrange a tutor and the provision of training materials. You should plan on it taking between six to twelve weeks to arrange, recruit and have a course delivered. For courses for which the Region has to employ a freelance tutor there will be charge of £300.00 per day. There is not normally a charge for arranging TUC courses and the 5 day UNISON workplace representatives courses, (stewards, health & safety representatives, equality representatives, and union learning representatives. (The charges may be waived on application to the Regional E&T Committee if your branch does not have sufficient funds. Ask the REO/RDLO for details).

4) The branch is responsible for arranging the venue, publicity and recruitment and covering branch participants’ expenses.

5) When the REO has identified an appropriate tutor, s/he will pass on the name of the person in the branch responsible for organising the course. The final details of the course - date, times, numbers attending - should be agreed between the branch contact and the tutor. When the details have been finalised the REO should be informed so that the materials can be forwarded. If no contact has been made by a tutor with the branch within a month, please contact the REO.

6) The region needs to be informed at least 4 weeks before the start of a course, of the numbers attending and the address for the delivery of the materials. If this is not adhered to there is no guarantee the materials will be delivered on time.

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Branch Authorisation

All the courses in this programme need the application to be endorsed by a lay official or member of staff who can authorise the payment of expenses, where appropriate the course attendance fee, and provide support for time off with pay to attend a course.

Applications made on this site are copied and sent to the appropriate branch email address so the branch secretary/branch education co-ordinator can confirm attendance with the Education Team. Five weeks before the start date of a course the Education Team will prepare the joining instructions for applicants. Please check with your branch that your application has been confirmed.

The Region is not able under any circumstances to cover applicants expenses.

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Representatives Accreditation & Right to Time Off for Training

On being elected, every steward needs to ensure that his/her branch notifies UNISON Regional Office. There is a green form (the Notification of Workplace Representatives Form – order no 0852) that must be used for this purpose. Without this form being completed and forwarded to the Regional Centre a workplace representative will not be listed on RMS and will not be added to the Education Service mailing list. On receipt of the green form Regional Office will issue the steward’s accreditation, either directly to the steward or via the branch.

This basic accreditation, covered by the Trade Union & Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, provides for stewards, in workplaces that recognise UNISON, the right to undertake trade union duties and to take part in appropriate trade union training. In addition it provides some specific legal protection against action taken by an employer to prevent or deter employees participating in the activities of a union and victimising union representatives.

The Employment Relations Act (1999), puts an obligation on unions to ensure that union representatives are “experienced” and/or have attended specified training in order to represent members in grievance and disciplinary cases. UNISON policy is that stewards involved in representing members, must have completed an appropriate training course. The courses that lead to ERA certification are the UNISON 5 day ‘The Organising Steward’ course, and the TUC 10 day ‘Union Representatives Stage 1’ course. On receiving confirmation that a steward has completed an appropriate training course the Region will issue ERA stewards credentials.

Stewards designated as who have attended training will be “ERA certified” by the Region, (either directly or via the branch), after the Regional Office has been notified using the Notification of Workplace Representatives Form.

All newly elected stewards will be notified of training courses by the Region in order that they may be ERA certified. However, local branch policy will generally set out who is responsible for case-work in the branch.

In 2010 the National Executive of UNISON introduced a policy that all ERA stewards are obliged to attend refresher training every 5 years.

Health & Safety Representatives

Health & Safety Representatives are entitled to time off with pay to undergo training in aspects of their duties under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations (as amended) regulation 4 (2).

Union Learning Representatives

Union Learning Representatives have the same legal rights to time off with pay to attend training as other union representatives. This is set out in the “ACAS Code of Practice 3 Time Off for Trade Union Duties and Activities” (April 2003).

The Right to Request Time off for Training for Members

There is no general right to take time off for training or study with pay. There is however a legal right, (set out in section 40 of the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009) to request time off which must be properly considered by an employer. There are a number of conditions linked to this right.

  • The request must be from an employee
  • An employee must work for an organisation with at least 250 employees
  • An employee must have worked for the employer for more than 26 weeks
  • The training or study must lead the employee to improve performance in the job

This time off is usually unpaid, although many employers will agree to pay if there is evidence the training or study will bring improvements to performance or productivity. If you want to make a request you should follow your employers procedure for this. If your employer does not have a procedure start with “This is a request made under Section 63D of the Employment Relations Act 1996” and provide:

  • The date(s) of the training
  • The subject matter or content of the training
  • The location of the training
  • Who providing the training
  • Any qualification or specific skill that you will gain

Normally you can only make one request every year. Your employer must either agree to the request or hold a meeting with you to discuss this within 28 days. If a decision is to hold a meeting the employer has another 14 days before giving you an answer. If the answer is no you have a right to appeal, which must be made with 14 days of this decision.

At every stage of your request please involve your Union Learning Representative or Steward.

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Bursaries & Grants

UNSION National Bursary Scheme & Course Discounts

For financial help with fees or course costs for UNISON members: - on trade union and labour studies courses - in general non-vocational education - in vocational education relevant to work in the public services

Full information and the application can be found at

The West Midlands Regional Bursary Scheme

The West Midlands Bursary Scheme is open to UNISON activists who would like to develop their skills, knowledge and capacities in furthering the interests of our union.

Full details of the bursary scheme and application can be found on this site (see the link below).

Dawn Lake Awards Fund

The Dawn Lake Awards Fund is jointly administered by the Regional Women’s Committee and the Regional Education & Training Committee. It provides grants for women who are active or want to become more active in UNISON.

Full details and application for the Dawn Lake Awards Please contact the Regional Women’s Officer, Anita Edwards tel 0121 685 3127 email, or the Regional Education Officer for application and details.

The TUC Educational Trust Bursaries

The TUC Educational Trust offers: - bursaries for students undertaking a year’s study at Ruskin, Coleg Harlech or Northern College - bursaries for students of Ruskin’s MA in International Labour and Trade Union Studies and MA in Women’s Studies - the Clive Jenkins European Study Bursaries - bursaries for a Certificate in Professional Development (CPD) in Union Learning at London Metropolitan University - bursaries for the BA Organisation of Work, Economics and Labour Law course at Birkbeck in association with the Institute of Employment Rights

For further information and an application follow this link

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UnionLearn / TUC Education service

UNISON fully supports the TUC Regional Education Service, (now called Unionlearn with TUC Education), programme of courses provided through a number of colleges, and by the WEA in this region. Many UNISON courses provided in this region are delivered using tutors from colleges and the WEA that are part of the TUC network.

You can apply for the full range of courses provided by Unionlearn with TUC Education in the West Midlands on this website using an electronic application form. Please check with your branch that your application has been signed and sent to the correct provider for TUC courses. The providers of TUC courses in the West Midlands are South and City Birmingham College, Shrewsbury College of Art & Technology, Solihull College, Stoke on Trent College, and the Workers Education Association.

A programme of Unionlearn on-line courses is available via its website:

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