Having secured a number of fixed-term contracts, I had discussed my working arrangements and desire for more permanency on several occasions with the School Manager and successive Heads of School, all to no avail, despite their reassurance regarding my capacity as a valued member of the organisation. I continued to work beyond the workload expected, but the uncertainty of my future working arrangements began to negatively impact, to the point where my confidence was compromised, and I was really beginning to doubt myself.
On the recommendation of a senior colleague, I contacted the University Chair of IFUT, we had a very useful meeting and I was put in touch with the IFUT General Secretary, Joan Donegan, who arranged to see me straight away. Meeting Joan was vastly reassuring and validating; she listened to my story and responded with a clear plan. As events progressed, Joan corresponded with the organisation’s HR personnel on my behalf and articulated my case without emotion, and in a way that I could not. She was objective and rational, yet extremely compassionate, and with a huge amount of experience and humanity. Once it became obvious that I would need further help, despite communications back and forth, Joan sought the expertise of IFUT barrister, Una Crowley, to support me through what eventually transpired was a process of conciliation. Una offered calm reassurance and allayed my fears throughout. The prospect of a conciliation meeting was very daunting, but I felt extremely safe with Una, and appreciated her sense of humour when the going got tough. The conciliation was not the end, but my story had a happy outcome, largely due to Una’s wisdom and professional guidance and Joan’s gentle persistence.
I am very happy that I sought help from IFUT, and I feel extremely fortunate to have met with Joan and Una, whose kindness, courtesy and professionalism renewed my belief that there is help and support available if you need it – you just have to ask for it.