Endorsement from Ms Rhian Keyse, University of Exeter UCU Branch Vice-President and Anti-Casualisation Officer

I’m delighted to endorse Jo Grady as my first preference candidate for UCU General Secretary. From her understanding of precarious work, to her vision for a democratic, member-led union which takes an innovative approach to industrial action, Jo’s excellent manifesto appeals to me as a rank-and-file branch activist (Vice-President and Anti-Casualisation Officer at Exeter UCU) and as a member of UCU’s National Anti-Casualisation Committee. However, I am also an experienced activist and practitioner in the gender-based violence sectoralso the subject of my academic researchand it is Jo’s stance on sexual violence and harassment that I want to highlight here.

Jo Grady’s recent blog on sexual violence and harassment set out a clear plan for preventing abuse in the workplace. We know that sexual violence and harassment are seriously under-researched and under-reported in our sector, and Jo’s proposals to appoint specialist casework officials to collect much-needed data on such cases are essential. By making the extent of the problem visible and undeniable, the union would be able to formulate concrete demands to take to our employers to help ensure that such abuses of power are stamped out. This would be an essential change of approach, one that could precipitate a sea-change in how harassment and violence are handled in the workplace.

Jo is also very clear, however, that these issues must be tackled within the union as well as in the workplace, reviewing internal procedures to ensure that complaints are dealt with sensitively and in a way that is trauma-informed rather than retraumatising. Jo has innovative ideas around how the expertise of members working in this field could be harnessed to ‘subvert cultures of abuse through prevention and support’. We need decisive action in this area, and I believe that Jo is the right General Secretary to bring about these crucial changes. For these reasons, and many more contained within her manifesto, I urge you to vote Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary.