Endorsement: Jane Holgate, University of Leeds

Endorsement from Professor Jane Holgate, University of Leeds

I will be voting for Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary as I think she has the vision and determination to fight on behalf of all UCU members. As an industrial relations academic and as an active member of UCU, and a pensions expert, she has great insight into what is needed to challenge precarious contracts, excessive workloads, bullying and health and safety issues. Jo is already a tireless campaigner on these issues and as General Secretary she will be able to direct the Union to fight on this issues but more importantly to strategies to win. So join me and vote Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary. Make sure you use your ballot wisely!

Endorsement: Alastair Hudson, University of Strathclyde

Endorsement from Professor Alastair Hudson, University of Strathclyde UCU Neogiator, and Academics for Pensions Justice

Here is Alastair’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.


Hello my name is Alastair Hudson, I’m endorsing Jo Grady for General Secretary of UCU.

I came to know Jo through the strike, and I was always very impressed by her commitment, her determination, her knowledge, and her judgment. I’ve had the chance, as I’m sure many of you have, to read her manifesto in the meantime. And I’m impressed, I’ve got to say. This suggests to me someone who, I admit, I was always going to vote for anyway, having had a chance to discuss a lot of these issues with her online over time, but seeing her manifesto, and seeing her clarity of visionhow she’s identified what are the key issues that are facing the HE sector and the FE sector. The issues that are facing established academics and people at the beginning of their careers, people on casualised and precarious contracts. The problems we’ve got with pensions. The problems we’ve got with an increasingly corporatised HE and FE sector, that’s borrowing huge amount of money for signature building programmes, that’s trying to increase profitability by cutting back pensions, worsening terms and conditions, putting people on fixed-term contracts, 10-month contracts, precarious contracts, increasing workloads, increasing stressall of the things we know about from the sector, Jo has diagnosed these problems and suggested in her manifesto very, very clear ways of dealing with those issues and others. Her agenda for equality, her agenda for the role of the General Secretary within it, a union that works much harder, I think, branch by branch, campus by campus, that draws together what we all need across the sector. I think Jo is a very, very, very strong candidate indeed, and I think we will be a much stronger Union under her leadership. So I’m endorsing Jo without any reservations whatsoever.

Endorsement: Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge

Endorsement from Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge

I am excited to write this letter of endorsement for Jo Grady for the General Secretary of UCU.

I came to the UK as a university lecturer in 2017, after leaving a tenure-track post at a public university in US during the previous academic year. Although I was naïve to think otherwise, I was startled after relocating to discover the pace and degree that UK public universities are becoming ‘Americanised’: offloading the cost of Higher Education onto students and their families through unmanageable debt; the rising salary gap between university staff and university leadership; dysfunctional academic labour markets produced through casualisation and race gender injustice. I have been struck by the sector’s lack of independence from state audit, as well as the specific dilemmas facing international staff. I am worried, for example, by the debt financing of international staff’s work visa applications, which strikes me as a modern form of indentured labour. But what has kept me from despair throughout this brief education on the UK higher education sector is the University and College Union, which I joined prior to the USS pension strike. I had been part of a failed unionisation drive at my previous university in the US, which worried me about the future for myself and for my colleagues. So, my brief tenure as an academic in the UK is the first time that I have experienced labour solidarity—both online and offline, both in the workplace and on the picket line.

Throughout that time, Jo Grady has been one of the most influential figures in engendering this sense of solidarity for me. I turned to USSBriefs and her Twitter feed for expert in-depth analysis during and after the pension strike. I am inspired by the vision outlined in her campaign manifesto and I become a more educated union member through learning from her expertise. With Jo Grady as the General Secretary of the UCU, I have full confidence that our union will become more knowledgeable about the challenges we face, while, at the same time, more able to recognise that expertise alone neither wins labour struggles nor will transform university conditions for the betterment of staff and students. She understands what it will take to mobilise our membership in support of a more vibrant public university sector. For that reason, she has received a campaign donation from me, as well as my time in helping her get out the vote. Join me in voting for Jo Grady.

Endorsement: Rupert Higham, UCL Institute of Education

Endorsement from Dr Rupert Higham, UCL Institute of Education

I’ve got to know Jo Grady on Twitter over the last 2 years. She was a source of valuable information, encouragement and good judgement during the Pensions Strike. She is down-to-earth, fearless and funny in pursuit of social justice and a university sector that lives up to its values of human betterment. She doesn’t just talk, she acts; she’s not only one of us, she’s one of the best of us. She represents the leadership we need in UCU. Please support and vote!


Endorsement: Shane Boyle, Queen Mary, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Shane Boyle, Queen Mary, University of London

There is only one clear and politically solid choice in the election for UCU General Secretary and that’s Jo Grady. Jo is running for General Secretary independent from the union camps that have, in my opinion, done little to struggle against the tide of casualisation, government defunding and reckless real estate speculation that have come to define workplaces in UK Higher Ed today. Instead, the national involvement of Jo Grady in the union and the way many of us know Jo came when she emerged as an important voice and organiser in the pension strike last year. She was a key part of the rank-and-file revolt that made the strike the success it was. But this doesn’t mean that voting for Jo is a protest vote. Her manifesto is sound. Among the many highlights are Jo’s commitments to: moving against casualisation, campaigning against surveillance and anti-immigrant policies, building up resources for handling grievances, tackling gendered and racialised pay gaps and discrimination, and pushing back against metrics.

Image: ‘Queens’ clocktower, Mile End’, by Ewan Munro, from Wikimedia Commons.

Endorsement: Des Fitzgerald, Cardiff University

Endorsement from Dr Des Fitzgerald, Cardiff University

Des Fitzgerald has made the following video endorsement for the #Grady4GS campaign!

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


My name is Des Fitzgerald, I’m a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Cardiff University, and I’m very happy to endorse Jo Grady as General Secretary of UCU.

I think we’re really heading potentially into moments of quite significant crisis in both the Further Education and Higher Education sectors, and I truly think we’re at a moment in which we need a form of leadership that is not only skilled at pulling the normal levers of industrial dispute, but is also able to embed those disputes in a much wider strategic analysis of the economic, political, and in fact cultural landscape in which they are embedded.

And for me, what distinguishes Jo Grady’s candidacy is that she’s produced a manifesto that not only talks in a very detailed way about the ‘bread and butter’ issues facing the Union today, but offers a really compelling vision of how the Union of the future needs to be so much more attentive to issues around casualisation and privatisation, around the ongoing attempts to marketise universities and to metricise the lives of the people who work in them.

Actually she offers I think a compelling vision of how we can build a financially sustainable union around those issues. I also think it’ll be really exciting actually to have a General Secretary who comes from the frontline of research and teaching and admin. I’m really happy to endorse Jo Grady as General Secretary.

Endorsement: Mike Finn, University of Exeter

Endorsement from Dr Mike Finn, University of Exeter

Mike Finn has made the following video endorsement for the #Grady4GS campaign!

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


I’m Mike Finn. I’m Director of Liberal Arts and Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Exeter, and I’m endorsing Jo Grady for General Secretary of UCU.

I’ve been active in UCU for a long time. I’ve been a branch secretary several times, I’ve been a caseworker, I filled a whole load of roles. And all that time active I’ve never seen us have a candidate for General Secretary like Jo Grady. I believe this is a unique opportunity for us. We’ve someone who’s an expertan academic expertin trade union matters and employment relations and industrial relations, who’s also an activist to her core, someone rooted in the values of the trade union movement, and a frontline educator who’s got that lived experience, that classroom experience if you like, of everything that’s happened in post-16 education over the past few years. She knows what we’ve gone through because she’s gone through it herself. And to have that synthesis of both the expertise but also the experience of what we’ve gone through is, for me, unique among the candidates that we’ve got before us, and among the candidates that we’ve had in the past.

But there’s one other thing I want to flag up. I work on Brexitone of the things that I study is Brexit and Higher Education and the international dimension. As we know, the last couple of years, many of our colleagues from EU27 nations have found themselves insecure and found themselves vulnerable in the Brexit moment that we’re living through in the UK and in UK Higher Education. Jo Grady’s been endorsed by Unis Resist Border Controls; she’s been there speaking out for this cause consistently. She’s someone whom we can trust to represent all of our members and all parts of the Union. For those reasons and for many more besides, I urge you to vote for Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary.



Endorsement: Gail Davies, University of Exeter

Endorsement from Professor Gail Davies, University of Exeter

I want to work in a tertiary education sector that foregrounds equality and diversity, promotes sustainable research careers, supports the international exchange of ideas, values workplaces that foster long-term creativity rather than reductive metrics, and provides inclusive training and education. I will be voting for Jo Grady for General Secretary of the UCU.

My name is Gail Davies. I work on the geographies of science and for the last six years I have sat on a committee providing science policy advice to the British government. I have seen how the marketisation of education and intensification of metrics is affecting individuals and research. I am deeply concerned about the impact of management practices on colleagues’ health and wellbeing and the consequence for knowledge production, when, to quote the editor of The Lancet “no-one is incentivised to be right”.

The UCU has not grasped the extent and impact of changes to the ways we are working and has failed to provide the leadership the sector needs. We require a reformed UCU able to support us in addressing the future challenges of health, the environment, education, and democracy. I believe Jo Grady’s unique mix of activism and analysis will provide the change we urgently need as educators and researchers.

Endorsement: Ivan Marković, University of Nottingham

Endorsement from Mr Ivan Marković, University of Nottingham

I am a PhD Candidate at the Department of Cultural, Visual and Media Studies, University of Nottingham. I have joined UCU only a few years ago, in November 2015 when I took up an administrative post in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham. I am now a PhD student in my third year and have worked as an hourly paid teaching assistant and demonstrator. While not entirely active, the recent Great University USS strike was for me, as it was for many of my peers, a turning point. Despite being outsourced to an agency, which meant that we could not join the strike formally, together with fellow PhD students, we mobilised in support and solidarity with our more senior colleagues to share the rain and the snow on the pickets, organising student support demos and lobbied the VC on behalf of the student body.

Being new to the dispute and faced with often esoteric discussions on university governance structures, arcane pension tests and the union’s own opaque workings, Jo Grady’s social media feed was always the first place I would go to seek out much need information and clarification. Jo’s expertise, passion, and commitment to the grassroots has from the very beginning been inspiring. All the more so, as it quickly became apparent that the union leadership’s poor handling of the USS strike on top of an already lacklustre engagement with issues of the gender pay gap, casualisation and precarity, was at odds with the sentiment we experienced on the ground among the rank-and-file. Instead of harnessing the energy of its members, the union sought to dampen it. Instead of transparency, it invited doubt. One could not escape the feeling that despite unprecedented mobilisation and increasing numbers, the union was and still remains on the back foot, reactive rather than proactive.

In a matter of months, I’ll be submitting my thesis and seeking to join the exploitative, broken and insecure labour market that is UK HE, and I cannot think of anyone better placed to represent my interests and the interests of my colleagues than Jo Grady. Jo’s manifesto and programme is exactly the kind of urgent radical change this union and wider sector need. In short, it offers hope that another university is possible!

Vote for Jo!

Endorsement: Catherine Fletcher, Swansea University

Endorsement from Dr Catherine Fletcher, Swansea University

Here is Catherine’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 Catherine Fletcher, I’m Associate Professor in History at Swansea University and I’m supporting Jo Grady for UCU General Secretary. I’m supporting her because I was really impressed by what Jo and what the colleagues at USSbriefs did last year during the pensions strike. They were getting information out and drawing on the expertise of members to make sure that we knew what was happening with our pensions, when we weren’t getting that information necessarily from elsewhere. I think that is a model for how UCU ought to operate and that’s why I’m really happy to be backing Jo.