Endorsement from Dr Finn Mackay, University of the West of England

I am pleased to endorse Jo Grady for UCU GS. Jo Grady seems the strongest candidate on tackling measurement by metrics, the marketization of HE and the hostile environment policy that affects us as workers, our students and our fields of teaching and research.

I left a job in local government to pursue a PhD in the Centre for Gender & Violence Research at the University of Bristol. While completing my PhD and in the years that followed, I undertook several hourly paid and short term contract teaching roles, at different Universities. Sadly, as we all know, precarious work and a high turnover of temporary staff are now the norm in our settings. All of this means that in academia we are often fragmented, and it is difficult to build solidarity amongst department teams, let alone throughout whole institutions. There is an observable reticence to join our Union because colleagues often don’t feel they belong as a worker in any one place and this reduces workplace and industry identity. Added to this, being measured by arbitrary metrics that none of us would get through a research ethics panel has served its purpose of putting people off and putting people down. Currently, research, graduate opportunities for our students and recruitment are all under threat by the hostile environment policy; valued colleagues are uncertain about their jobs and residency. This is why it is so important that Jo Grady recognises this situation as a state of emergency and a priority for our Union.

We need a leadership in our Union that is transparent and which can build up a strong and motivated membership who feel they have something collective to fight for into the future, and not just to defend what we have now. We know that critical thinking skills are needed in our young graduates now more than ever. What we, the workers in our sector offer, is nothing less than the future itself. We should be proud of what we do, and I believe that Jo Grady can bring that freshness, collective identity and sense of pride into our Union. I believe that Jo Grady can revitalise the UCU, build a strong and engaged membership and facilitate us to be the powerful collective that we can and should be.