UCU elections
Taking action in higher education

Dr Renee Prendergast (Queen's University Belfast)

Election address

I am a Reader in Economics at Queen's University Belfast. I have a long record of trade union activity in AUT and in UCU at branch, regional and national level. My work at Queen's UCU includes several years as President or vice -President and Secretary for Local Issues. I have served as regional Chair and also represented the wider trade union movement a number of working parties. I was first elected to the NEC as a women's representative and later as a representative of NI HE. I have been Vice Chair of the Higher Education Committee, Chair of the Superannuation Working Group and an elected pay negotiator. I have been a member of the Women's Committee of NIC ICTU; have represented UCU on the QUB Gender Initiative and currently am the Athena Swan Champion in my School.

Most of my life as a trade unionist was in period when the ideology of the free  market was taking hold and we were constantly battling to hold the line against attacks on jobs, on pay and above all on our conditions. The results of this period are still with us but the tide has turned ideologically providing us with the opportunity to reverse some of our losses. UCU is now stronger than it has ever been and the conditions are right for us to achieve gains if we use our strength wisely. That means that we use all the mechanisms at our disposal and that, when we find it necessary to take industrial action, we do it strategically at the most advantageous time with definite aims in mind.

The gender pay gap in our universities and colleges is amongst the largest of any industry. It is the product of many aspects of women's lives including child bearing and child caring; unfairly distributed workloads; short-term contracts; a long-hours culture; discriminatory salary pointing; and off-scale payments such as market supplements. Ending long hours and making workloads and reward fair and transparent are goals that benefit man and women. But something more is required to make serious inroads in the gender pay gap. I have come to believe that definite targets and even quotas are necessary to bring about the required change. I know that this is controversial and that women worry that they will be perceived to have only got the job because they are a women. My answer to my daughter and my younger self is that at least you will have the job and the chance to prove yourself. 

Please vote for me if the above strikes a chord. Please also vote for Janet Farrar as Vice -President.

 

Last updated: 29 January 2020