We use cookies to ensure that we can give you the best user experience. By continuing to use our website you are consenting to their use. Find out more.

What language do you need?

Jargon Buster

To join or to form links with an organisation.

Annual Delegate Meeting (ADM) 
The biggest conference in the Union's calendar bringing together elected branch delegates from across all seven regions who discuss and decide Union policies.

Annual Report
A report on the previous year's Union activity submitted to ADM by the National Executive Council.

Area Organiser (AO)
A full-time local official of the Union responsible for providing service and advice to one or more branches and for recruiting new members.

All members are organised into their own branch. This may be particular to their workplace, it may be company specific but involve a number of workplaces in the area, or it may be geographically based and grouped with other members from a number of different companies (a general branch).

Branch Meetings
Are held on a regular basis and/or whenever the reps/branch committee decide. These meetings allow the members to have their say and participate in the local and regional Union activities.

Branch Officers/Committee
The Branch Secretary and Chair, elected by their members, organise the branch's activities locally.

For the purposes of disciplinary action, capability is a person's ability to do their job. In particular, this is where a lack of skill, intellectual or physical capacity prevents an employee from performing their job to the required standard.

Card Vote
A vote where delegates vote by holding up a card which has on it the number of members in their branch.

Central Officials
Four in total – the General Secretary, the Deputy General Secretary, the Executive and Administration Officer and the Central Treasurer – all based at Head Office.

Collective Bargaining
Jointly agreed arrangements between the company and the Union for negotiating matters such as pay and conditions of employment.

This refers to an employee's personal behaviour or actions. When this behaviour falls below the standards expected by the company – because it is unreasonable, unacceptable, goes against company policy or is not within the bounds of reasonable behaviour expected of staff – it is called misconduct.

The person elected by the branch to represent it at other meetings, such as: The ADM, regional conferences, Trades Councils.

Deputy General Secretary
Full-time Usdaw official elected by branches who has the main responsibility for recruitment and organising across the Union.

Where an employee's contract of employment is terminated.


Disciplinary action may occur if the company has concerns about an employee's performance (capability) or behaviour (conduct).

Disciplinary Investigation
Management should always carry out a full investigation to establish the facts before a disciplinary meeting takes place.

Are held at every level of the Union, workplace, branch, region and nationally depending on the position in question. Members get an individual vote in all of the major elections.


A grouping of Usdaw branches within reasonable travelling distance of each other. Mainly engaged in education and social activities.

Final Agenda
The Agenda containing all the propositions, amendments and composite propositions to be debated and voted on at ADM.

Formal Procedure
The official agreed procedure for dealing with grievance and disciplinary matters.

General Secretary
Full-time Usdaw Official elected by the whole membership. The most senior official in the Union.

The term 'grievance' simply refers to a concern, problem or complaint that an employee is experiencing at work that they decide to raise with their employer.

Head Office
The Union's headquarters (called Head Office) is based in Manchester and houses all Central and National Officials and departments.

Health and Safety Committee
Meeting of Health and Safety Reps and managers to consult on workplace health and safety issues.

Health and Safety Rep
A person elected by Usdaw members to represent their views and concerns on all health and safety issues.

The Health and Safety Executive is the national Government agency responsible for health and safety policy.

Routine check of the workplace or of part of the workplace by the Health and Safety Rep.

Interim Agenda
The Agenda containing all the valid propositions and valid amendments.

Lay Official
Any elected official who is not a full-time officer of the Union, including Shop Stewards, Safety Representatives, Union Learning Representatives, Branch Officers, Regional Councillors and National Executive Councillors.

National Equalities Advisory Group
National Advisory Committee set up to promote equality and involvement of under-represented groups.

National Executive Council
The governing body of the Union and policy-making body between the ADMs. The NEC meets monthly in Manchester and consists of the President, the General Secretary and members elected from each of the seven regions.

National Officer
A full-time Usdaw official who has responsibility for companies at a national level, leading negotiations in a particular trade, industry or sector of employment and advising the membership in those trades on regional or local negotiations.

Where the two parties are involved in bargaining and the decision making is shared.

Recruiting new members in the workplace, involving them in Usdaw and encouraging Union activity in the workplace.

Political levy
A small deduction from members' weekly contributions which is put in the Union's Political Fund.

Preliminary Agenda
The Agenda containing the valid propositions.

Chairperson of the National Executive Council and the ADM. Elected by the whole membership.

A formal suggestion put to ADM for discussion and to be voted on.

Recognised Union/Recognition
A Union which the employer has agreed to consult and negotiate with regarding pay, terms and conditions.

The Union has seven geographical regions across the UK, which is the next level of organisation after the branch. Each has its own regional office and additional other local offices spread around the UK. The regions are: South Wales and Western, Eastern, Midlands, North Eastern, Scottish, Southern and North West.

Regional Conference
Each branch can send a delegate(s) to this twice-a-year conference that deals with regional issues and allows reps to have their say on the important topics of the day.

Regional Council
Made up of elected reps and the regional officer. It is responsible for overseeing the Union's work and passing up any national concerns to Head Office. Members elected by branch vote in each of the seven geographical regions to co-ordinate the work of the Union in their particular region.

Regional Equalities Forum
Aim to promote equality and involvement by under-represented groups.

Regional Officer
Full-time Usdaw official who has responsibility for all Area Organisers and sites in their geographical area.

Where somebody assists, and/or acts on behalf of a colleague in meetings with managers.

A period of time spent away from a person's usual job undertaking a different role, eg Recruitment and Development Rep.

Shop Steward
See Usdaw Rep.

Statutory Minimum
The minimum protection/cover provided by law.

Statutory disciplinary procedure
The minimum disciplinary procedure as required by legislation.

Statutory grievance procedure
The minimum grievance procedure as required by legislation.

Tesco Support Team
Specialist Usdaw Research Team based at Head Office to support the Union's work in Tesco.

Trade Conference: 
Delegate meeting covering a particular trade or industry.

Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers.

Usdaw Rep (also known as Shop Steward)
A person elected by Usdaw members who organises and recruits members in the workplace and represents views and concerns.

Union Learning Rep (ULR)
A person elected by Usdaw members to help them get access to learning opportunities.

Usdaw's Tesco Support Team
Specialist Usdaw Research Team based at Head Office to support the Union's work in Tesco.

Disciplinary action that can be taken against an employee. There are four levels of formal warning: verbal, first written, final written, and dismissal or suspension or demotion.

Free prize draw

Enter our free prize draw to win a £100 Love2Shop Gift Voucher courtesy of Usdaw Protect.

The official website of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers