Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

Eulogy: Gay Simpkin

Academic journal article New Zealand Journal of Employment Relations (Online)

Eulogy: Gay Simpkin

Article excerpt

Gay Simpkin was one of those rare people who bridged the worlds of activism and the academy. She was a passionate and effective feminist and union activist, as well as a highly successful, incisive, and reflective scholar in labour studies. Each sphere also benefited from the other - her academic work was informed by the practical experience of her activism, which in turn benefited from her sharp analytical ability and application of broad comparative, historical and theoretical perspectives to practice. In these ways she was an inspiration across both spheres.

I came to know Gay well in 2005, soon after I arrived from Australia to take up a position at Auckland University of Technology as Professor of Employment Relations. She was then an organiser with the Post Primary Teachers' Association. We soon teamed up in forming the Auckland Labour History Group of which she became secretary. Gay was a very well organised and effective secretary of the Auckland Labour History Group, which benefited greatly from her fine attention to detail, process and record keeping - it was basically her efforts that kept us ticking over. Under her stewardship we organised a number of well-attended labour history events that many people attending her tribute will remember.

Gay also became a valued contributor to the New Zealand Work and Labour Market Institute (now Work Research Institute) when I formed it at AUT and she retired from the PPTA. She became a Project Officer with the Institute, and she had main responsibility for two significant projects. The first was conducting case studies of a small number of New Zealand schools for a comparative study of employee participation and quality of the work environment in New Zealand and Denmark. Based on this research, we subsequently wrote an article together with a Danish colleague, Herman Knudsen, in the British based journal, the Industrial Relations Journal (I give a reference below, and I'll also send a soft copy by email upon request). …

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