Date Released: 31 July 2015
SIPTU members have said they are not surprised at the failure of NUI Galway to secure an Athena Swan award for gender equality policies in higher education in light of the number of outstanding issues concerning discrimination at the third level institution.
SIPTU Education Sector Organiser, Louise O'Reilly, said: “It is unfortunate but not surprising that NUI Galway was not deemed deserving of the recently announced Athena Swan awards for gender equality policies in higher education. It is an accurate reflection of the current state of gender equality at the university by an independent body. The reality is that our members in NUI Galway continue to report incidents of discrimination in the university.
“In May, the SIPTU Academic Section in NUI Galway submitted an objection to the institution's application for an Athena Swan award. The SIPTU submission stated that the NUI Galway application did not represent 'an authentic commitment to engage with the Athena SWAN process’.”
O'Reilly added: “Despite NUI Galway management setting up an ‘equality task force' nearly six months ago and the expenditure of considerable amounts of public funds on public relations and legal cases, our members continue to report that little has changed in terms of discriminative practices in the university. SIPTU staff representatives have stated that the issue is not confined to promotions or to academics. They have also received reports of the under-payment and bullying of women administrative staff as well as discrimination against part-time and pregnant workers.
"The President of NUI Galway, Jim Browne, also has a dismissive attitude to his staff's concerns in relation to these matters. SIPTU members of staff have been waiting over months for a reply to a letter sent to Browne concerning this issue. This attitude while disappointing is not surprising".
NUI Galway management recently turned down an invitation from the Labour Relations Commission to attend conciliation talks with unions concerning reports of discrimination at the institution.