Jo Grady re-elected as UCU general secretary

Grady narrowly won the election, which had a turnout of just 15%

Grady narrowly won the election, which had a turnout of just 15%

Jo Grady has been re-elected to serve a second term as general secretary of the University and Colleges Union (UCU).

Grady won in the third round of voting. King’s College London law professor Ewan McGaughey narrowly missed out on the top job, losing by just 182 votes.

17,131 valid votes were cast out of 114,310 eligible UCU member voters – a turnout of just 15.1 per cent. Grady was elected with 7,758 votes to McGaughey’s 7,576.

University of Leeds widening participation officer Vicky Blake came third and Liverpool John Moores University senior education lecturer Saira Weiner came in last.

Grady, a former employment relations lecturer at the University of Sheffield, said: “I want to thank every member who has voted to endorse my strategy for our union’s future.

“We have achieved so much in the past five years, including further education’s biggest pay award in a decade and the greatest pension win in UK trade union history.

“But there is still much to do. Under my leadership, UCU will continue to be a fighting union that will stand up for education. We need a fair funding settlement for higher education and binding national bargaining in further education. I look forward to working with our incredible members to push employers and government to invest in our sector’s staff and students.”

Grady has committed to push for “enforceable” national deals on pay and terms and conditions in further education colleges. She has also pledged to strengthen UCU branches in colleges and prison education and “tackle casualisation” in adult education.

Her second term begins officially on August 1.

The remaining election results, for vice-president, national executive committee and trustee are expected to be announced on March 5.

Picket lines with FE members

UCU members at numerous colleges across the country have been striking in the last year, most recently last month at Capital City College Group about pay disputes and workload.

Grady at The Manchester College

Grady said at the time she “need[s] to be on picket lines with our further education members”, and that “our members need, and they deserve my full attention”.

Colleges have accepted pay deals of up to 10 per cent for teaching staff for the 2023/24 academic year. It comes after the Association of Colleges advised colleges to use the government’s £200 million of 16-19 funding to award a 6.5 per cent pay rise to FE staff, the same as schoolteachers.

The union has faced internal disputes recently, with UCU staff escalating a row over pay with bosses.

And last year Grady agreed a £22,000 settlement in a legal dispute over potentially libellous tweets.

UCU review into racism

The union today has also accepted an independent review of racism at UCU.

In a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, the Unite Black members’ group claim “institutional failings” are affecting UCU staff.

Unite, who represent UCU staff, alleged that Black staff are disproportionately targeted for punitive action under internal procedures – 45 per cent of all UCU cases handled by Unite had an element of race discrimination.

“Firstly, it is Black staff who have to engage on a daily basis with the senior management team who have overseen the aforementioned failings,” said Unite UCU.

“Secondly, the exclusion of staff from an independent investigation called into question of the employer’s public response to the racism crisis.”

A UCU spokesperson said: “UCU is currently sourcing an external independent party to conduct a review examining issues raised by the black members’ standing committee and our black staff. We are already acting to address concerns raised by staff in a number of ways, including through training and support for progression, and will continue to put anti-racism at the heart of our agenda for members.”

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  1. JustSaying

    This clearly is not a strong mandate. The membership may however, regret rejecting a law professor in favour of someone who has a background of “reckless tweets”!