Date Released: 08 January 2015
An Extraordinary General Meeting of the SIPTU academic section at NUI Galway voted unanimously today (Thursday, 8th January) for an urgent external equality audit, of all aspects of the university, by an independent expert or experts.
The resolution states that the university must take action to eliminate all facets of structural discrimination within the institution. It requires that SIPTU be involved in agreeing the external expert(s) in order to guarantee their independence. Members called for this entire process to be clear and transparent.
Union members expressed concern about the timeline for this review. A new sub-committee of the union has been set up to progress this issue. It stated: “Our members feel strongly that the unacceptable state of affairs in the university must be rectified as a matter of urgency and not be allowed to drift over a number of years; the expectation of our members is that there should be a report by this summer.”
The meeting heard from many speakers about the nature of discrimination being experienced by women on a daily basis in the institution and male union members voiced their support for the motion because this issue affects them too.
It was agreed that academics were not alone in facing discrimination. The SIPTU Committee stated: “If this is happening to women academics at NUIG what are women on low pay or no pay facing, for example, administrative staff and cleaners? Actively and concretely addressing this issue is of concern to all staff regardless of gender or employment status.”
Representatives of staff in other sections of SIPTU on campus attended the meeting.
Full text of the motion:
1. NUI Galway Management should deliver on the recommendations emerging from the recent Sheehy-Skeffington and Dempsey Equality Tribunal rulings and must take action to eliminate all facets of structural discrimination within the institution.
2. NUI Galway Management should expeditiously engage with (an) external independent expert(s) to conduct an independent equality review of all aspect of the University’s activities, including its policies and practice and their implementation.
3. The expert(s) should hold hearings where staff may present evidence.
4. SIPTU Academic Section should agree the selection of the external expert(s).
5. SIPTU Academic Section at NUI Galway should work with SIPTU Higher Education Sector to address gender discrimination in higher education at national level and across the sector.
6. Pressures for additional administrative, teaching and research work have increasingly made the maintenance of an acceptable work-life balance difficult or impossible. While gender has become a particularly salient dimension of structural inequality and discrimination, intensifying workload exacerbates structural inequalities and discrimination and negatively impacts essential care responsibilities. We call on NUI Galway to actively and concretely address this issue, which is of concern to all staff regardless of gender.
7. The Minister for Education should be lobbied to drive change and implement an equalities agenda across the sector.