Jo Grady elected University and College Union general secretary

Sheffield lecturer secures 64 per cent of vote in second round of counting

May 24, 2019
Jo Grady

Jo Grady has been elected general secretary of the UK’s University and College Union.

Dr Grady, a senior lecturer in employment relations at the University of Sheffield, secured 64 per cent of the vote in the second round of counting.

The ballot was called after Sally Hunt resigned as general secretary in February for health reasons.

Dr Grady beat Matt Waddup, the UCU’s national head of policy and campaigns, who got 33 per cent of the vote in the second round. Jo McNeill, the president of the University of Liverpool UCU branch, was narrowly eliminated in the first round.

Turnout was 20.5 per cent, with 23,638 union members casting their ballots.

University and College Union general secretary election 2019: full results

Second round:
Jo Grady: 15,214 (64.4 per cent)
Matt Waddup: 7,721 (32.6 per cent)
Votes not transferred: 703 (3 per cent)

First round:
Jo Grady: 11,515 (48.7 per cent)
Matt Waddup: 6,104 (25.8 per cent)
Jo McNeill: 6,019 (25.5 per cent)
Jo McNeill eliminated (5,316 votes to be transferred)

Dr Grady faces the challenge of attempting to resolve the long-running dispute over pensions provided by the Universities Superannuation Scheme, and a potential dispute over this year’s pay offer.

She said that her victory was “won by, and for, the members of UCU”.

“We have chosen to start a new chapter of open and democratic leadership in our union at a time of extraordinary challenges for all staff who work in tertiary education, from the pressures of volatile funding regimes to the indignities of Brexit and the hostile environment,” she said.

“We can meet and overcome those challenges because we are skilful, dedicated, passionate people, and we know we deserve better.

“Expectations are high. I have been given an overwhelming mandate on the back of a hugely improved turnout. I look forward to carrying out that mandate by working with UCU’s outstanding staff and harnessing the talent and commitment of our members.”

UCU employs 200 staff and manages a budget of more than £25 million. The position of general secretary is full-time and salaried, with a term of office of five years.

Dr Grady, whose start date is yet to be confirmed, was due to address the union’s annual congress in Harrogate on 25 May.

A Universities UK spokesman said: “We congratulate Dr Grady on her election as general secretary of UCU, and look forward to working with her across the many issues currently faced by the higher education sector.”

Ms Hunt had led UCU since the union’s inception in 2007 from the merger of the Association of University Teachers and the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education.

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