UNISON in Schools

UNISON is the largest union for school support staff in Manchester. The local UNISON Manchester branch has nearly 10,000 members and over half of these are based in 200 schools across the city. These include local authority, community, academy, voluntary-aided and free schools. Not a member yet? You can join online here.

Who do UNISON represent in schools?
Basically everyone apart from teaching staff. That includes teaching assistants, caretakers, administrators, cleaners, learning mentors, catering staff, technicians or lunchtime organisers. Whether you’re working full-time as a teaching assistant or doing a couple of hours a week as a lunchtime organiser, you all play a vital part in school life and deserve the support of UNISON.

What do UNISON do for school support staff?
Firstly, UNISON provides you with individual support at work. That includes advice and support at school; representation in grievances, disciplinaries and sickness absence meetings; and legal support in the case of allegations and accusations from children or parents. Please note that you need to be a member for four weeks before you can access support.

Secondly, UNISON gives you a collective voice at work campaigning on issues like pay, pensions and terms and conditions. We also campaign around issues affecting members at school including administering medicines, dealing with behavioural issues and covering lessons. Furthermore, UNISON negotiates on local changes such as academisation and has recently secured the living wage for staff working in CE and Catholic schools.

We campaign on a number of issues including:

  • Better pay and conditions for support staff
  • Improved career structures
  • Access to training and development
  • Fairer treatment for term-time, part-time and temporary staff
  • High quality, well-resourced education services accountable to the local community

The more members we have, the stronger we are when campaigning on issues that affect you at work.

Are there any other benefits of UNISON membership?
Yes, loads. We understand that many of our members are struggling to make ends meet, so we provide a range of additional support, including a variety of exclusive deals and offers we have negotiated with partners to help members save money. Here are a few:

  • There for You – UNISON Welfare provides a variety of help and support to members in need of extra support. Whether that’s help with buying school uniforms for their children, support with paying the fuel bills during winter, emergency grants or benefit advice. Get in touch if you’re in need of a bit of extra help.
  • Legal Services – Access extra legal support for you and your family including advice on non-work related issues, personal injury claims, free wills, low-cost conveyancing and help with immigration issues.
  • UNISON Learn – Whether it’s training through UNISON to develop your confidence, skills or knowledge at work, or financial support via our education bursary scheme, check out whether you might be eligible for extra support.
  • Rulebook Benefits – Members are entitled to a range of additional benefits including death benefit, accident benefit and fatal accident benefits as well as a variety of exclusive deals and offers which members can take advantage of to save hundreds of pounds.

How do I join?
It couldn’t be easier to join UNISON. If you have a local UNISON rep, ask them for a membership form. Alternatively, you can join online or get in touch via the branch contact page and will be in touch to complete your membership application.

What do I do if I need support or advice?
In the first instance, you should speak to your local UNISON rep at the school if you have one. If you don’t have a local rep, then please get in touch with the branch via the contact page. If the matter is urgent and the office is shut, you can call UNISONdirect on 0800 0 857 857.

How do I get active?
UNISON relies on workplace contacts and stewards to pass on information, improve communications and support members locally. This helps to ensure that your school is kept in the loop, but also helps the branch know about local issues affecting you at school. Workplaces with union stewards are always much stronger because there is someone in the school trained in supporting members and representation. If you are interested in being a contact or steward at your school, please get in touch with the branch via the contact page.