Renee Prendergast (Queen's University Belfast)

Election address

My employment and service to the union include:

  • Reader in Economics at QUB
  • Officer of Queen's AUT/UCU since 1984, and currently an elected staff representative on QUB governing body
  • Currently UCU Regional HE Chair. As Regional Chair in 2011, successfully campaigned with NUS/USI to maintain university funding and the cap on fees
  • Member of UCU National Executive 2008-2014
  • Served on the NEC Strategy & Finance and Equality sub-committees and was Vice-Chair of the Education committee in 2012
  • Currently an elected UCU national negotiator for HE
  • Involved with the QUB gender initiative since its inception and former member of the Women's committee of the ICTU NI committee.
  • Served as TU representative on Steering Committee for NI HE Strategy and Board of NI Economic Research Institute.

Public funding per HE student in Northern Ireland is significantly below that in GB and is in danger of being cut further. Managements in Queen's and Ulster are responding by cutting staff, subject provision and local student intake while increasingly focusing on high fee-paying students and income from non-governmental sources. Alongside this, we face shrinking real pay, cuts in pension benefits, intrusive management, heavy workloads, restrictive research targets and loss of academic freedom.

The ever-increasing demands to do more with less have placed unsustainable pressure on UCU members. As branches, we have to find ways to organise resistance; at regional level, we must campaign against further cuts; UK-wide, we need to fight for better pay and against further attacks on our pensions. At all levels, successful action requires good organisation and the effective use of the union's resources.

To further its objectives, UCU must improve membership density amongst academic and academically-related staff and use all the campaigning methods at its disposal. At times industrial action is necessary, and I have led it. But it is not an end in itself and is most effective only when it has the full support of the majority of members.

As an officer of Queen's UCU, I have daily contact with members through campaigning work and personal cases, and have a good understanding of their priorities and the pressures they face.  As current UCU Regional HE Chair, I understand the challenges posed for our universities and teacher education colleges by the present HE funding cuts.  I believe that such awareness is necessary if the NEC is to make good decisions about the nature and timing of its campaigns.

I have been an active trade unionist all my working life, and have a proven track record of work at local, regional and national level. If you think that this qualifies me to be your representative on the NEC, please vote for me.

Last updated: 1 February 2016