Endorsement: Grace Krause and Josh Robinson, Cardiff University

Endorsement from Ms Grace Krause and Dr Josh Robinson, Cardiff University

Grace Krause is a postgraduate student at Cardiff University, a research assistant on a fixed-term contract at University of Bath, and an anti-casualisation officer for Cardiff UCU. Josh Robinson is a senior lecturer in the School of English, Communications and Philosophy at Cardiff University, and the lead negotiator on the UCU committee at Cardiff. Here is their endorsement video for the #Grady4GS campaign! Thank you for your support, Grace and Josh!

You can see it on Twitter or on YouTube (below). The transcript is at the bottom.


JOSH ROBINSON: Grace and I’ve been working together over the last year or so, and negotiating improvements to the ways in which the university engages with postgraduate students carrying out teaching, and we’ve just had major success which is that management here has agreed to set up a working group to look at the status of postgraduate students who teach, and we’re very hopeful that this working group will move toward contracted employee status for those students who also teach, which will be a huge, huge improvement of conditions under which our postgraduate students carrying out teaching here. So quite excited about that.

GRACE KRAUSE: These negotiations built on about 4 years of organising that has happened here among postgraduate students. And through being involved in those activities, and through the wider anti-precarity work that is done here at Cardiff UCU, I’ve become very aware that a lot of the time, especially the most precariously employed workers here, have in the past not felt that Cardiff UCU represented them properly, and for some people that feeling still persists.

GRACE KRAUSE: And this among everything else is one of the reasons that I endorse Jo Grady for General Secretary of UCU, because her manifesto inspires proper hope among some of the most precariously employed workers at universities that things might change for the better. In particular, the high importance she gives to casualisation speaks to us, as does her proposal to have more progressive subscription rates which will benefit lower-paid employees and to establish a coordinating position for anti-casualisation work across the UK.

JOSH ROBINSON: This is really the first time in 12 years of UCU membership that I’ve been excited to vote for a General Secretary. I’m really excited by Jo’s manifesto, in particular because it sets out not just a wishlist of what education should look like, or you know some policy changes that we’d quite like a government to make, but she’s got a real vision that’s expressed in the manifesto that comes forward from the research and the activism that she’s been involved in. A real vision of how our union needs to change in order to build the power that we need to create the changes that we want.

Endorsement: Ghazal Vahidi, Steff Farley, Steven Parfitt, Thomas Swann

Endorsement from Ms Ghazal Vahidi, Steff Farley, Dr Steven Parfitt and Dr Thomas Swann, Loughborough University

From left to right: Ghazal Vahidi (doctoral researcher in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour), Steff Farley (doctoral researcher in Mathematics), Steven Parfitt (Teaching Fellow in History), Thomas Swann (Early Career Fellow in Politics). All of us at Loughborough University.


Casualisation defines British universities and further education colleges today. As early career academics we all face the pressures and stresses caused by the low pay and insecurity that comes with casual work, and we all want to do something about it. Local branches are doing what they can to combat casualisation in their own workplaces, but we need a General Secretary who can more closely coordinate their work and make sure that all the good work they do is magnified and widely shared, not limited to isolated action at individual institutions. Jo has a proven commitment to playing that role. We believe she is the best candidate to make casualisation a central issue across UCU.


Equality is a crucial issue across HE and FE. Whether we consider equality in terms of the gender pay gap, a proper focus on the needs of BAME staff, or bringing LGBT+ issues to the fore, so much work remains to be done. As with campaigns against casualisation, the hard work of local branches needs more coordination and better support from the centre. Jo’s manifesto makes it clear that she puts equality in all forms at the heart of her vision for the union. We believe that as General Secretary, she can put that vision into action.

Not business as usual

Our union is changing. Since the 2018 USS strike, not to mention the other recent strikes and campaigns to defend staff across HE and FE, UCU is larger and stronger. These strike and campaigns energised a new layer of younger and not-so-younger activists who are eager to push back against decades of flatlining pay, casual labour and attacks on our pensions and jobs. Jo was in the forefront of these activists during the pensions dispute. She helped create USSbriefs, an invaluable source of information on the strike and on wider problems across HE and FE today.

Yet the dispute also raised concerns about the way our union is run. Jo is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Democracy Commission, which came out of those concerns, and to making sure that the hard work of activists and local branches is always reflected at a national level. We think that with Jo as General Secretary it will not be business as usualbecause it is business as usual that has meant worsening pay, conditions and pensions.

Endorsement: Helen Eborall and Rebecca Linnett, University of Leicester

Endorsement from Dr Helen Eborall and Ms Rebecca Linnett, University of Leicester

Helen is Lecturer in Social Science applied to Health, University of Leicester, and Equalities Officer for Leicester UCU. Becky (and her sidekick Reuben, aka @dogwithajob) is a PhD student in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester and a member of the Disability Staff Forum.

We are endorsing Jo Grady for General Secretary for so many reasons, but given our involvement in equalities work we particularly support her stance on this topic. It’s easy to talk about having a commitment to equality issues, but Jo has consistently demonstrated that she does, from regularly calling out discrimination on Twitter to her tireless campaigning within numerous branch positions.

Jo’s manifesto is a breath of fresh air for the future of Higher and Further Education. She is matter-of-fact and realistic about the current and future challenges to the sector, and as General Secretary of UCU will bring new ideas and approaches to the work ahead and to the ethos of the union. In particular, we welcome the more coordinated approach she proposes to fighting discriminationwhich will be a godsend to branch equality officersand her ideas around collective negotiation and bargaining with employers on issues relating to intersectional inequalities.

Jo Grady as General Secretary of UCU gives us hope for the future of HE and FE, and confidence that UCU canand willbe pivotal in transforming the sector for the good of us all.

Endorsement: Isla Forsyth, University of Nottingham

Endorsement from Dr Isla Forsyth, University of Nottingham

I’ve voted for Jo Grady in the UCU General Secretary election because I believe it is vital that union members are represented by someone who has experience of what we are facing in this sector, who understands the demands made of us and the pressures we face every day.

Her manifesto clearly demonstrates someone who is dedicated to building an ethical and sustainable university that will fight the casualisation of labour, work for equality, diversity and inclusivity, and challenge increasing precarity.  The impressive speed with which her campaign has been launched and the level of detail for how positive change will be sought demonstrates commitment, organisation and motivation, as well as ability to mobilise, engage and act that I believe is much needed.

At times there feels like there is so little potential to push back against the pressure of the university sector which employs the language of social responsibility, equality and partnership to further squeeze its staff to deliver more at all costs, and where perceived failings are individualised and penalised.  I believe that by voting for Jo there is a real chance to challenge these pressures, hold universities to account and push for truly ethical, sustainable and responsible universities.

Endorsement: Steven Shakespeare, Liverpool Hope University

Endorsement from Dr Steven Shakespeare, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Liverpool Hope University

Here is Steven’s endorsement video for the #Grady4GS campaign! Thank you for your support!

You can see it on Twitter or on YouTube (below). The transcript is at the bottom.


I’m Steven Shakespeare. I’m a Lecturer in Philosophy at Liverpool Hope University. And I’m endorsing Jo Grady to be the General Secretary for UCU.

What impressed me about Jo is that she has that frontline experience in the classroom, knowing what the pressures are facing our profession. But she’s also an activist with a fantastic record of success in union work, and has really come to the fore in the recent radical disputes about pensions in the sector. I don’t think Jo is beholden to any faction, but nor is she part of the union bureaucracy. She’s a radical voice with fresh ideas to democratise and empower the union, and deal with issues like gender inequality, casualisation.

I’m voting for Jo Grady because I think she’s the voice that our union needs to make it truly a member-led body. Thank you.

Endorsement: Clare Bambra, Newcastle University

Endorsement from Professor Clare Bambra, Newcastle University

Here is Clare’s endorsement video for the #Grady4GS campaign! Thank you for your support!

You can see it on Twitter or on YouTube (below). The transcript is at the bottom.


Hi, I’m Clare Bambra, Professor of Public Health at Newcastle University, and I’m supporting Jo Grady for three reasons. Firstly, she’s one of us. She’s an academic so she understands the issues we’re facing on a daily basis. Our issues are her issues, and they matter to her personally. Secondly, Jo was a really important activist during the USS pensions dispute, so I trust her to be acting in my best interests and in the best interests of members in future resolutions around this issue. And finally, Jo is a pensions expert, that’s her academic background and her credibility in this area is really high. So I think it’s really important that we have a leader of the union who understands the seminal issue of our times. So please support Jo Grady, vote Jo Grady number 1.

Endorsement: Rhian Keyse, University of Exeter

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.

Endorsement: Rhys Davies, Royal Holloway, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Rhys Davies, Royal Holloway, University of London

I fully support Jo Grady’s candidacy for UCU General Secretary. Our sector has seen fundamental change since the tripling of student fees, where the commercialisation of Higher Education has resulted in Senior Management Teams being recruited from business. Gone are the days when senior academics, with a long history of teaching and research, undertake senior management roles. Policy is now decided by those who have never been in a classroom, who have never engaged one to one with a student. Where has our union been throughout this process? Reacting with a policy of appeasement and false compromise, like nocturnal creatures blinking in the harsh light of a new dawn. We need a General Secretary who knows what it is like to teach a cohort nownot in the halcyon days of full grants. Jo is the only candidate who can make this claim. We’ve had enough of Neville; it’s now time for a bit of Winston.

Endorsement: Sally Hines, University of Leeds

Endorsement from Professor Sally Hines, University of Leeds

I am honored to endorse Jo Grady’s UCU General Secretary candidacy. During the 2018 USS pensions strikes, Jo worked tirelessly to articulate a strong collective voice and proved herself to be a dynamic force for change. As demonstrated by her manifesto commitments, Jo’s campaign is uniquely informed by her exceptionally strong levels of personal commitment and professional knowledge.  Her grounding in grassroot struggle and her political expertise give her the edge needed to increase the profile and active membership of the UCU in order to bring transformation to the current troubling climate of HE in the UK. Working against HE cultures of precarity, casualisation and marketisation, and fighting low and unequal pay structures, Jo offers vitality and vision. I am also supporting Jo due to her broader support for gender equality and trans rights. Underpinned by socialist principles of power redistribution, Jo Grady’s manifesto brings a much needed energy to to our Union and offers the political urgency needed in current times.

Endorsement: Sarah E Seaton, University of Leicester

Endorsement from Dr Sarah E Seaton, Co-Chair of University of Leicester UCU Branch

Many universities and FE colleges in the UK are stuck in the pastwith overworked, underpaid, unhappy and unsecure staff working at them. UCU has worked hard to keep the pressure on, but radical change is needed and I welcome this General Secretary election. There has never been a more important time for change, and I believe that Jo Grady brings a breath of fresh air to the education sector. As an externally funded researcher myself, I greatly welcome Jo Grady’s manifesto plans to tackle casualisation, I feel this is an area UCU has failed to make sufficient progress in the past. I am delighted to see Jo’s plans for a more transparent union, with a General Secretary more accountable to their membership. Having fought alongside Jo Grady in the past in local disputes here at Leicester, I can categorically confirm that she would be excellent as the next General Secretary of UCU and she will be receiving my #1 vote.