The various UNITE conferences going on at the moment are leading many activists who have previously concerned themselves only with issues within their own workplace to try to get their heads round UNITE's structure.
One of the questions I am being asked is where an activist would send a remit (the term now used for a motion or resolution) if they wanted it to become UNITE policy and I'll try to answer this question below.
Don't forget that you don't always need to send a remit "all the way" to the Executive Council (EC) - send it as far as is needed to get the action you want. For example sectors have autonomy over sectoral matters so a National Industrial Sector Committee (NISC) should be able to deal with most things without needing to wait for approval from the EC.
Under Rule 12, UNITE holds a Policy Conference every two years, most recently in June 2012. Each branch and constitutional committee (which means things like Regional Industrial Sector Committees [RISCs], Area Activist Committees [AACs], Regional Committees, Equality Committees but not workplace committees, combines or industrial committees which aren't defined in rule) can submit a motion to Policy Conference, but delegates overwhelmingly come via the industrial sector committees.
Between Policy Conferences
A branch or an individual rep can send remits up through the structure via several routes:
1) To your Area Activists Committee, who can send it on to the Regional Committee, who can send it on to the Executive Council. This route is best for general issues.
2) To your Regional Industrial Sector Committee, who can send it to the Regional Committee, who can send it on to the Executive Council.
3) To your Regional Industrial Sector Committee, who can send it to your National Industrial Sector Committee (NISC) who can send it on to the Executive Council. This is best for issues which are of significant concern to your industrial sector.
4) To one of the Regional Equality Committees, who can send it to the National Equality Committee, who can send it on to the Executive Council. This is best for issues which mainly relate to one strand of equality (i.e. women, disability, LGBT, BAEM, young members, retired members).
5) To one of the Regional Equality Committees, who can send it to the Regional Committee, who can send it to the Executive Council.
I've gathered a lot of information about UNITE's structures on a separate page.
One effect of the many layers remits have to navigate is that it takes a long time, so it's worth checking the schedule of meetings. The current system makes remits very vulnerable to a cancelled or inquorate meeting anywhere on its route, which can add significant delays too. Personally I preferred the system in Amicus where any branch could send a motion directly to the EC. This, along with the greater frequency of EC meetings meant that there was the potential for the union to be much more responsive. Of course we didn't get a lot of benefit from this as the Amicus EC often voted down potentially useful motions.