Endorsement: Susanne Hakenbeck, University of Cambridge

Endorsement from Dr Susanne Hakenbeck, University of Cambridge

I wholeheartedly support Jo Grady’s candidacy for UCU General Secretary. I consider Jo Grady to be the candidate with the clearest vision for what we need in our sector right now. She is standing on an ambitious platform that is supported by concrete aims.

I got to know Jo Grady well through our work on the USS National Dispute Committee that was created following the strike last year. In our monthly meetings, I found her to be exceptionally collegial and comradely, and always willing to consider any idea on its merits. I believe that with Jo as General Secretary we can move from our current trajectory of managed decline to real, positive change in our sector.

Since I joined UCU in 2006, I’ve only ever seen UCU react to the increasing pressures in our working conditions, be they pay, pensions or casualisation. In Jo we have a candidate who is proactive, and who understands that collective bargaining can be more than simply trying to stop a further turn of the screw.

Her manifesto is full of ideas; I particularly support her stance on climate change and on sexual harassment.

The ballot is only open for a few more days. I hope you will support Jo Grady. Please post you letters right away!

Endorsement: Fabian Frenzel, University of Leicester

Endorsement from Dr Fabian Frenzel, University of Leicester

It is genuinely exiting to see Jo Grady running her inspiring and powerful campaign for a stronger and more democratic UCU, and for a better further and higher eduction sector. I am convinced by the power of UCU to transform the sector towards the genuine public institution it should be. Successive governments have nearly crippled the sector, creating layers of useless higher management on vastly inflated salaries, while students are burdened with huge debt and staff experienced years of redundancies, reduced pay and benefits and increased precarity. The pension strike has shown the spirited nature and potential of our collective power. Jo Grady stands for this spirit and this is why I endorse her as the best candidate for UCU General Secretary.

Endorsement: Catherine Oakley

Endorsement from Dr Catherine Oakley, UCU Anti-Casualisation Committee 2018-2019, co-author, The Precarious Postdoc report

I’m no longer a member of UCU, but Jo Grady has my heartfelt endorsement for General Secretary. Jo recognises the issues which have led so many people like myself to leave the profession, and understands the need for the union to transform itself from within to address them. I’ve experienced a toxic mixture of these issues first hand, and I know many others experience them too.

Between 2018 and 2019, I served on the UCU’s Anti-Casualisation Committee. Union members have been working incredibly hard on that committee for many years for genuine recognition and proper resourcing from UCU HQ to support them in tackling casualisation.

Attending the eventful UCU Congress in 2018 as a first-time delegate, I heard senior execs on the podium refer to casualisation as an issue now “at the heart” of the union’s agendas, while knowing from my work on the inside that this is not the case.

If elected, Jo will appoint national branch coordination officers for anti-casualisation to develop this infrastructure. She understands the importance of a democratically-led national union in ensuring that local branches can organise effectively and in protecting individual members from burnout.

Jo is an independent, grassroots candidate with the knowledge, skills and background to lead UCU into a new era. Her manifesto gives me real hope for the future of our universities at a critical time for their futures. She’d have my first vote, with Jo McNeill as second.

Endorsement: Daniel Davison-Vecchione, University of Cambridge

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.

Endorsement: Jo Edge, University of Manchester

Endorsement from Dr Jo Edge, John Rylands Library, University of Manchester

I was proud to nominate Dr Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary and, as an early-career researcher who is now on my second fixed-term contract since finishing my PhD, I firmly believe she is the candidate who best represents me and those in a similar position. I first became aware of Jo during 2018’s USS strikes and was impressed by her knowledge, expertise, and professionalism. I was so disappointed when the strike was called off, against the advice of experts such as Jo. She is also the only independent candidate standing for election and is not involved in the factional politics that have plagued our union for so long.

I have been so impressed with Jo’s inclusivity and attention to detail throughout her campaignfor example, she was careful to get high-quality translations of her materials into Welsh and Scottish Gaelic. This not only shows solidarity with colleagues in Welsh and Scottish institutions, but is also a commitment to diversity. She is standing on a broad range of issues that affect us all, from PhD students to the professoriate including casualisation, pensions, pay and conditions, and mental health. The managed decline of our sector has to stop if it is to survive, and Jo is the person to lead UCU’s fight against this.


Endorsement: Debora Price, University of Manchester

Endorsement from Professor Debora Price, University of Manchester

I endorse Jo Grady for General Secretary. Jo and I first met through our mutual research interests in gender and pensions, and we have collaborated for the last couple of years in pursuing research funding to investigate the pension implications of growing precariousness in work. This period coincided with great stresses in the further and higher education sectors and the pension dispute resulting in strike action, and of course we had many conversations about these issues. Jo’s knowledge, anlaysis, approach and leadership on these issues has been hugely impressive and I cannot think of a better candidate to lead us through the forthcoming challenges.


Endorsement: Finn Mackay, University of the West of England

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.

Endorsement: Alice Evans, King’s College London

Endorsement from Dr Alice Evans, King’s College London

For a long time, we were frustrated, yet despondent. We complained bitterly about neoliberal precarity, casualisation, and top-down metrics, but doubted change was possible, so sighed and went with the inevitable flow.

The 2018 industrial action changed all that. By striking together, in unity and solidarity, sharing photos of picket lines up and down the country, we realised our collective strength. And we won, we secured concessions. This emboldened our movement.

So the strikes were fundamentally a collective act of resistance.

Dr Jo Grady played a key rolebeing incredibly perceptive, analytical, articulate, and downright inspirational. She established USSbriefsto harness our collective expertise, counter disinformation, enabling us to realise we were right to resist, and thus legitimising our struggle for pensions. Thanks to comrades like her, more people came out. She strengthened our strike.

We all want a stronger, more effective union, which no longer meekly kowtows, but actually demands and expects better. Dr Jo Grady helped us realise that we were absolutely right to resist, and have the collective power to do so. She has my full support and gratitude.

Endorsement: Tom Bennett, City, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Tom Bennett, City, University of London

I’m not usually much enthused by union politics. But Jo Grady’s candidacy for UCU General Secretary has gotten me excited. She has the experience of teaching and researching to know exactly what issues face us and what we are struggling with. She has particular expertise in employment relations and the issues surrounding the pensions dispute that put her in a fantastic position to represent us in respect of those matters. And she proposes policies that fit coherently within the broader political framework. She gets the problems we face and has the imagination to envisage and articulate solutions. I’ve listened to her carefully and decidedin the light of all thisthat she speaks for me. She’s the General Secretary we need. Vote Jo Grady!

Endorsement: Matilda Fitzmaurice, Durham University

Endorsement from Ms Matilda Fitzmaurice, Durham University

In 2018, like many precarious and hourly-paid staff, I spent many hours freezing on the picket line with my securely employed colleagues to help them defend their USS pensions. So, like many other Graduate Teaching Assistants and ECRs, I was bitterly disappointed when the most recent strike ballot on HE pay and equality returned a below 50% turnout.

I am endorsing Dr Jo Grady as UCU General Secretary because the normalisation of precarious HE and FE employment has to stop. Spending years eking out a living on casual contracts post-PhD should not be normalised as an unavoidable ‘rite of passage’. The teaching, committee duties and other services we postgraduate researchers provide to universities, while significant, are often woefully underpaid. Precarious contracts and employment practices, which affect professional services staff as much as academic staff (if not more so), are making HE an intolerable sector to work in for so many colleagues, and making an academic or HE career achievable only for the most fortunate few. This is a gross injustice not only to those forced to leave the sector, but also in terms of the wasted research talent and the well-being of our students, who deserve to be taught by securely employed staff who can afford to plan ahead.

I am backing Jo because her manifesto recognises that insecure work marginalises colleagues who are already under-represented in HE; inequalities which are themselves exacerbated by the Hostile Environment. All postgraduate researchers and ECRs deserve to be able to consider a career in the sector to which we have dedicated so much of our time, money, skills, and care. We deserve a union that is prepared to fight for us.