UNISON

					UNISON Lesson Plan from The Times 100 website: www.tt100.biz


UNISON
Trade Unions
http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/case_study.php?cID=38&csID=129

Overview: this case study focuses on the role of trade unions such as Unison in protecting employees
and working with employers.

Learning objectives:
    to examine the role of trade unions and their objectives
    to examine the workings of the minimum wage
    to understand the significance of partnership between employers and unions.

Introduction (2 minutes)
Introduce the lesson: you will look at trade unions and consider their role. You will consider the
importance of an effective employer-employee relationship.

Introduce the role of trade unions- protecting employees, working in partnership with employers and the
government. Aims include safe, harmonious working environment regardless of race, sex, disability or
religious beliefs.

Unison (15 minutes)
Unison was formed in 1993 when three public sector unions joined together, they have nearly 1.3
million members working in public services. Over two thirds are women, Unison aims to protect
employees in the workplace. This includes ensuring employers stick to a contract of employment.

Which of the following statements are true and which are false?
i.   UNISON is the UK’s largest trade union
ii.  most of the members of UNISON are men
iii. UNISON was created by the merger of three public sector unions
iv.  average earnings of employees in unionised workplaces are higher than in workplaces with no
     trade union
v.   the average trade union member receives 23 days annual holiday compared with 23 days for
     non-unionised workers
vi.  workplaces with a trade union are more likely to have an equal opportunities policy.

What % of UNISON’s members are women, and give one example of an industry in which they might
be employed.

Which of the following particulars must by law be provided by an employer for their employees?
i.   the names of the employer and the employee
ii.  the date employment began
iii. pay, hours, overtime, holiday and sick pay entitlements
iv.  pension terms
v.   job title and description of duties
vi.  disciplinary and grievance procedures.



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Minimum wage (12 minutes)
One right for UK employees is the minimum wage.
Student task: Read the paragraph on the minimum wage in section 3.

What is the Minimum Wage and why is UNISON campaigning on this issue?




Give examples of low paid workers whose pay and conditions UNISON is seeking to improve.

Student task: Read the final paragraph of section 3:
     explain what is meant by the working time directive.

Collective bargaining (10 minutes)

What is collective bargaining and how might this involve UNISON?

Ask students for the arguments for and against collective bargaining from an employer’s point of view.
(e.g. possibly quicker and easier negotiations but means unions have strong bargaining power
depending on relationship with employees and how managers view this power balance). Put
suggestions on the board. Students then to make notes on collective bargaining.

Partnership (10 minutes)
Explain that the role of unions is not necessarily hostile to management. In fact the stance of unions
generally is to promote the idea of partnership with employers.

How can partnership between unions and employers help to achieve high performance workplaces.

Review (1 minute): you looked at why people join unions and the rights unions protect; you have
highlighted the benefits of partnership between employers and employees.

Homework
Complete the worksheet on this case study.




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UNISON
Trade Unions
Questions and Answers
Which of the following statements are true and which are false?
i.   UNISON is the UK’s largest trade union
ii.  most of the members of UNISON are men
iii. UNISON was created by the merger of three public sector unions
iv.  average earnings of employees in unionised workplaces are higher than in workplaces with no
     trade union
v.   the average trade union member receives 23 days annual holiday compared with 23 days for
     non-unionised workers
vi.  workplaces with a trade union are more likely to have an equal opportunities policy.

True - i, iii, iv, vi.
False - ii, v.

What % of UNISON’s members are women, and give one example of an industry in which they might
be employed.

3.33% - healthcare, the voluntary sector, and call centres.

Which of the following particulars must by law be provided by an employer for their employees?
i.   the names of the employer and the employee
ii.  the date employment began
iii. pay, hours, overtime, holiday and sick pay entitlements
iv.  pension terms
v.   job title and description of duties
vi.  disciplinary and grievance procedures.

All of the particulars listed must be provided in writing!

What is the Minimum Wage and why is UNISON campaigning on this issue?

The Minimum Wage sets a minimum level of wage to be paid per hour. It is set at different rates
according to the age of an employee and is currently being extended to include young workers.
UNISON believes that the rate is not high enough and it should automatically rise so those on the
lowest wages do not get left behind.

Give examples of low paid workers whose pay and conditions UNISON is seeking to improve.

Car park attendants, cleaners, porters and catering staff employed by private contractors but working
in hospitals around the country. UNISON is seeking to create parity with NHS employed workers.

What is collective bargaining and how might this involve UNISON?


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Collective bargaining is negotiation to arrive at an agreement between parties representing employers
and parties representing employees. UNISON frequently represents large groups of employees in
bargaining with employers to arrive at an agreement covering large numbers of employees.



How can partnership between unions and employers help to achieve high performance workplaces.

Workplaces are most likely to be productive places when employers and employees feel that they are
working towards shared goals and objectives, by working with management in a spirit of co-operation
to resolve work based issues and create shared aims, unions like UNISON are best placed to create
harmonious working environments. Employers therefore benefit from creating employee involvement
schemes including the recognition of and respect for trade union activities. Trade unions are there to
represent the interests of their members and frequently these interest can best be furthered by co-
operative agreement with employers, i.e. working together in a spirit of co-operation.




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posted:10/2/2011
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