Renee Prendergast (Queen's University Belfast)

Election address

I am a reader in Economics at Queen's University. I have been active in AUT/UCU for many years and have held the office of President, Vice-President and Local Issues Secretary in the QUB branch.  I have been active at regional level including being Regional Chair. I have been a member of the NEC since 2008, except for 2014-16.  I am currently vice-chair of the Higher Education Sector and a member of UCU's negotiating team on USS.

Higher education in NI is the worst funded in the UK and this is placing huge pressure on staff.  While we have been successful in keeping a cap on fees, local politicians have not made up the gap in funding and we are being pressed to compete with institutions with much larger budgets. Staff are facing shrinking real pay and increased job insecurity. UCU must act smart locally. At times we must work with our management and students to campaign for better resources for the sector: at other times we have to campaign to defend our members' interests. We need to improve our contacts with the NI administration in order to put the case for HE and its staff.

UCU members are committed professionals who want to deliver high quality education and research for the benefit of the wider community. Members want to be given the autonomy to get on with their jobs rather than be distracted by often meaningless and inappropriate targets. They want to be paid fairly and to look forward to decent pensions when they retire. UCU plays a vital role in defending members at collective and individual level. Casework and campaigning are complementary parts of branch work and branches must be given the resources necessary to support them.

Industrial action is sometimes necessary force change in the negotiating environment and  to achieve real gains. However, it is not an end in itself. Action which does not have strong support of members, with clear attainable objectives, merely demonstrates weakness. NEC Members must be honest with members about what can be achieved.

I will continue to prioritise the key industrial issues:
job security;
grade deflation, particularly for AR members.

Resources must be concentrated on these key industrial issues that unite the membership and where we can have real effect.


Last updated: 1 February 2018