Endorsement from Mr Ivan Marković, University of Nottingham
I am a PhD Candidate at the Department of Cultural, Visual and Media Studies, University of Nottingham. I have joined UCU only a few years ago, in November 2015 when I took up an administrative post in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham. I am now a PhD student in my third year and have worked as an hourly paid teaching assistant and demonstrator. While not entirely active, the recent Great University USS strike was for me, as it was for many of my peers, a turning point. Despite being outsourced to an agency, which meant that we could not join the strike formally, together with fellow PhD students, we mobilised in support and solidarity with our more senior colleagues to share the rain and the snow on the pickets, organising student support demos and lobbied the VC on behalf of the student body.
Being new to the dispute and faced with often esoteric discussions on university governance structures, arcane pension tests and the union’s own opaque workings, Jo Grady’s social media feed was always the first place I would go to seek out much need information and clarification. Jo’s expertise, passion, and commitment to the grassroots has from the very beginning been inspiring. All the more so, as it quickly became apparent that the union leadership’s poor handling of the USS strike on top of an already lacklustre engagement with issues of the gender pay gap, casualisation and precarity, was at odds with the sentiment we experienced on the ground among the rank-and-file. Instead of harnessing the energy of its members, the union sought to dampen it. Instead of transparency, it invited doubt. One could not escape the feeling that despite unprecedented mobilisation and increasing numbers, the union was and still remains on the back foot, reactive rather than proactive.
In a matter of months, I’ll be submitting my thesis and seeking to join the exploitative, broken and insecure labour market that is UK HE, and I cannot think of anyone better placed to represent my interests and the interests of my colleagues than Jo Grady. Jo’s manifesto and programme is exactly the kind of urgent radical change this union and wider sector need. In short, it offers hope that another university is possible!
Vote for Jo!