Endorsement from Mr Daniel Davison-Vecchione, University of Cambridge
I’m a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Cambridge and I’m pleased to say I’m backing Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary.
In an education sector where those of us beginning our academic careers are on the knife edge of marketisation, expecting to spend the years ahead on insecure contract after insecure contract, we need a General Secretary who will fight tooth and nail against casualisation. Jo plans not only to convert local claims against casual labour into a viable national strategy, but also to make the voices of precarious staff heard within the union’s channels. In other words, Jo is not only committed to making our union fight for us: she’s committed to making us feel a vital part of the union itself.
I’m also extraordinarily impressed by Jo’s assertive stance in favour of migrants’ rights. She keenly understands the horrific role thrust upon education workers to act as de facto border guards. This is an issue of which I became vividly aware back when I was Branch Secretary of Surrey UCU and on which I wrote during the USS Strike, when many UCU members on Tier 2 visas feared that missing consecutive work days would put them at risk of being reported for ‘unauthorised absence’. Jo will commit the union to resisting our forced complicity in the sprawling, violent apparatus of the immigration system and to helping migrant workers fight for their rights by organising in the workplace. She knows that we should push not only to protect our EU colleagues and students in the current context of Brexit, but also to extend the limited benefits presently enjoyed by EU staff and students to all international staff and students. I therefore trust Jo as a General Secretary who can make the slogan ‘Build unions, not borders!’ mean something palpable.
Lastly, it is an incredibly positive sign that Jo does not shy away from bigger political issues. She is upfront about the risks of simply leaving a socialist or social-democratic party ‘to do the right thing on the issues that matter to us, like immigration and border controls, Brexit, or direct funding of education and research’. She understands keenly that we need to build our own power as organised labour so that we can tackle such national and international matters ourselves, even during less politically hospitable times for the labour movement.
I therefore call upon my fellow UCU members to vote for Jo Grady.