No shortcuts meet ucu ways to make money’s radical new general secretary novara media

By any measure, jo grady’s election to the helm of the university and college what are some ways to make money union has been volcanic. An outsider, rank-and-file candidate standing on a manifesto which pledges to increase what are some ways to make money member participation, challenge the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies, and make the office of general secretary more accountable, grady was last week elected with an unprecedented landslide on what are some ways to make money a vastly increased turnout.

Within higher education, grady became a nationally recognisable activist during UCU’s 2018 pensions strike, largely thanks to her involvement with USS briefs, a collaborative multimedia project which encouraged greater understanding of the what are some ways to make money dispute surrounding the universities superannuation scheme. She was later elected to the union’s national dispute committee and its national executive committee.

Last year’s pensions strike was notable not only for being the what are some ways to make money largest and most sustained in UCU’s 13-year history, but also for the level of participation from younger, more precariously employed researchers and teachers. In recent years, at both branch and national level, anti-casualisation initiatives have been reshaping the union’s activities. But it has been an uphill struggle, with many branches having to push hard to force casualisation what are some ways to make money onto the agenda. Grady’s manifesto pledges to make job security a campaigning priority.

“if you have gone through your academic career and you’ve had the good grace that you’ve never been on a precarious contract, it’s not necessarily that you’re not concerned, you just probably don’t really see it,” says grady. “there’s still a good deal of people who think it’s a rite of passage, and I think we can’t lose touch from [the fact] that not only is precarity growing but it trickles up what are some ways to make money and we have to keep at the forefront of including what are some ways to make money those voices in what we do because otherwise we’re just going to manage our union and sector into what are some ways to make money insignificance.”

Grady has a keen understanding of the line unions walk what are some ways to make money when it comes to being changing with the times. Now a senior lecturer in industrial relations at the university what are some ways to make money of sheffield, her phd considered the sacrifices made by the trade union what are some ways to make money movement through its collaboration with neoliberalism. But it’s clear from spending time with grady that any notes what are some ways to make money of cynicism ultimately come from a place of passion. Brought up in a pub in central wakefield, grady was born into a striking mining family shortly after what are some ways to make money the 1984/5 strike began.

“I’m really a mixed bag,” she says. “the circumstances in which I was delivered into this world what are some ways to make money mean I have an almost visceral attachment to trade unions what are some ways to make money and believe in them and their power to change and what are some ways to make money defend and to be transformative, and without a doubt when we work together, we win – or we can win. But also my phd was about criticising trade unions who’d become collaborators in a neoliberal project under new labour.

“I can be very cynical of what unions can become, but also think they can be amazing and represent one what are some ways to make money of our best mechanisms for working collectively for change, and I think that we have to keep in mind what are some ways to make money when we become involved in our trade union – or get employed by it – what is it we’re trying to achieve? One of the reasons I called my manifesto ‘A manifesto for a modern education union’ is that I really want to centre the political importance what are some ways to make money of education.”

Grady’s vision of education is inflected with her labour movement what are some ways to make money principles – she sees it as a profession to defend, yes, but fundamentally as a social good. It’s a key theme of grady’s inaugural address to this year’s congress, in which she admonishes employers’ attempts to use the social value of education to deter what are some ways to make money educators from sticking up for themselves and the sector. How does she respond to arguments that a more strident what are some ways to make money UCU could invoke the ire of students?

“our students didn’t blame us, despite our institutions’ best attempts to weaponise them against us; they demonstrated that actually in the occupations it was universities what are some ways to make money who cut off sanitation to some students, it was universities who threatened them with police action afterwards, and it reminded everybody what happened in 2010 when universities what are some ways to make money took similar action.”

Grady is fluent when it comes to the scale of what are some ways to make money the tasks facing unionised educators and support staff. Her mantra is to be “honest with people about what you can achieve but raise what are some ways to make money their expectations and bring them in.” it’s a code that evokes the US organiser jane mcalevey, author of raising expectations and raising hell and no shortcuts: organizing for power in the new gilded age. Indeed, eagle-eyed readers will pick up on such references in grady’s manifesto. She sees her tenure as general secretary as a collective what are some ways to make money endeavour, and one that is as much about building power as what are some ways to make money representing members.

“I think it’s obviously going to be a really hard job but what are some ways to make money it’s a job that I’m really happy and willing to do. But I also think that, clearly, there is an electorate that really wants to help me what are some ways to make money do it, because that [turnout] increase from 13.7 to 20.5%, all of those people voted for a union with this what are some ways to make money blueprint, they understand there are no shortcuts because they have been what are some ways to make money working as hard [as they can] in their branches to try to get casualisation motions through, but they’re not seeing it in pay claims and they’re not seeing it in the other issues, whether it’s ethnicity or gender pay gaps.”

But what does being a general secretary who can bridge what are some ways to make money the head office and rank-and-file look like? Grady appears keen to explore more dynamic forms of engagement, as well more radical ways to ensure the union is what are some ways to make money transparent and accountable. One such suggestion is the exploration of open negotiations, a tactic more familiar in continental europe, where negotiations between bosses and union leaders are broadcast.

“I would love to open up the idea with employers what are some ways to make money of open negotiations,” says grady. “at base it could mean that the negotiation on pay, pensions, etc. Would be public – in some circumstances could be livestreamed. Employers hate to do it because they obviously feel very what are some ways to make money exposed by it, and if you are a trade unionist who doesn’t want to be fully accountable you might hate it what are some ways to make money as well. I would say it makes everybody honest because members know what are some ways to make money that I’m working as hard for them as possible and employers what are some ways to make money know that they can’t hoodwink you.”

Another of grady’s ideas is the creation of member task groups – time-limited working groups that would sit alongside or bridge existing what are some ways to make money national committees with a particular brief, such as responding to the government’s ‘hostile environment’ policies or increasing the participation of members in more neglected what are some ways to make money roles, such as professional services. Grady hopes they will bring innovation into the union’s campaigning, such as identifying new areas for leverage, while appealing to members who find the existing structures inaccessible what are some ways to make money or overly demanding. It’s a noble idea, but one likely to raise some eyebrows from within the what are some ways to make money existing structures.

“the structures we have are incredibly important; they make up the democratic procedures of our union. But what we’ve seen is that issues such as casualisation, issues that affect marginalised members in general, members with disabilities who are being performance-managed out, or women who are being sexually harassed – you don’t see those members represented through the committee structures,” says grady. “we know these issues are the pressing issues of our what are some ways to make money union, so we have to find a way to bring those what are some ways to make money voices in.”

Grady’s approach seems a far cry from the union’s recent history. Although disrupted by grady’s election, this year’s congress still sits in the shadow of 2018’s annual congress, which was abandoned following walkouts over a debate on whether what are some ways to make money a no-confidence motion in the previous general secretary, sally hunt, should be discussed. The motion criticised hunt’s handling of the conclusion of last year’s pensions strike, and while it was never ultimately debated, the 2018 congress did create a democracy commission, mandated to explore (among other things) the possibility of making the general secretary recallable in future.

Hunt resigned on health grounds in february 2019, triggering this year’s contest, but the democracy commission is ongoing. A key plank of grady’s manifesto, confirmed in her inaugural speech, is to accept its recommendations if adopted by next year’s congress and to accept any changes to her employment what are some ways to make money contract as a result. It’s a position that feels consistent with her insistence that what are some ways to make money the office of general secretary is political before being professional, and that democracy and transparency go hand-in-hand.

“our union would benefit from becoming a lot more open what are some ways to make money and transparent,” says grady. “I think the unfortunate incident that happened last year is what are some ways to make money because people were demanding accountability and transparency, and it wasn’t there. The picket line had been characterised by sharing, by transparency, by democracy, by educating each other, and the reason why something like USS briefs was as what are some ways to make money popular as it was is because people were starved of what are some ways to make money information. We’re a union. I think as a union we must possibly be the what are some ways to make money most highly-skilled union in the UK in terms of diversification of what are some ways to make money different skills – to me it seems reasonable to use those skills and what are some ways to make money be transparent about things rather than keep that knowledge at what are some ways to make money bay.

Throughout our interview, grady is eloquent and confident, not just in herself but in the strength the membership what are some ways to make money brings to the union. Indeed, it is striking that she sees the role of the what are some ways to make money membership not as merely providing a steer for the union’s elected leaders, but as its key asset and resource in developing new what are some ways to make money ideas and building power across the tertiary education sector. While refreshing, such a hands-on approach feels unsurprising coming out of sheffield UCU, a “shit-hot” branch, in grady’s words, which has developed a national reputation its proactivity. At this congress, the branch is leading the conversation on both migrant organising what are some ways to make money and trans rights. I have to ask: what’s in the water in sheffield?

“I’m not suggesting age is important here but it’s got a lot of ‘younger’ members, and I think if you’re younger and employed in universities you know what it’s like to probably have paid higher fees, been shafted by neoliberalism, been on some sort of precarious contract or the person what are some ways to make money you love or live with has, you probably don’t own a house and have sinkhole rent, so I feel like there’s an idea that you’re just not going to put up with this shit what are some ways to make money anymore, essentially.

“I just think that there’s a burning injustice amongst people who have either been what are some ways to make money marginalised or experienced the realities of precarity, and I think that last year there was a feeling what are some ways to make money that we’d all been sleepwalking a little bit, and everybody woke up. And nobody’s going back to sleep until we’ve sorted it. It might take five years or it might take a what are some ways to make money lifetime to sort, but I think the idea that we just tolerate a what are some ways to make money managed decline because we can’t expect any better has just been entirely rejected.”

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