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.

Endorsement: Sophie Jones, Birkbeck, University of London

Endorsement from Dr Sophie Jones, Birkbeck, University of London

I wholeheartedly endorse Jo Grady for General Secretary of UCU. Her manifesto not only presents bold, informed proposals on the main crises facing our sectorcasualisation, marketisation, the hostile environment, overwork, institutional racism and sexismbut shows a refreshing understanding of how these issues are interlinked. The UCU leadership has often seemed to operate at a distance from the everyday impact of these problems, paying lip service to ‘casualisation’ and ‘equality’ without offering a meaningful, imaginative programme of action that engages with multiple arenas of struggle. Jo Grady’s commitment to working with rather than for members to develop such a programme is exciting to me: her vision for a transparent, democratised, proactive union is exactly what we need right now.

Endorsement: Michael Abberton, Cambridge Assessment English

Endorsement from Mr Michael Abberton, Senior Assessment Manager and UCU Healthy and Safety Rep, Cambridge Assessment English

Last week I attended the General Secretary hustings in Cambridge and now I’m wholly endorsing Jo Grady and I’d recommend that you look at her website and manifesto.

What the union needs right now certainly is not factionalism, confrontation and disunity. It needs to recognise that we are part of a wider trade union movementthe USS strike was won not because of any individual member or officer, or any interior pressure group, but because of solidarity between members and frankly would have been dead in the water without the support of the NUS. Jo was the only candidate to mention this at the hustings putting unity inside and outside the union as a priority.

Jo comes with no baggage and treats everyone with respect. She isn’t a career union officer but is coming straight from the chalkface. At Sheffield and Leicester she has certainly stood up and fought when the need arises, but doesn’t use confrontation or a union rulebook as her first recourse.

So please consider Jo as your candidate, but most importantly, please vote!

Endorsement: Lindsay Wright, University College London

Endorsement from Ms Lindsay Wright, Communications and Marketing Manager, University College London

Here is Lindsay’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 Lindsay Wright and I’ve worked in the HE sector in professional services as communications manager for nearly 20 years in a number of London universities.

I’ve just filled in my ballot paper in the General Secretary vote. And I’ve put Jo Grady as my first choice. I’ve chosen Jo Grady because I believe she is the only candidate able to achieve equality for professional services and academic staff.

And that’s why she’s getting my vote, and that’s why she should get your vote too!