Jo Grady has been elected as UCU general secretary—easily beating establishment candidate Matt Waddup.
The result is a move to the left. Grady is a prominent figure in the battle to defend the USS pension scheme in older universities.
She argued that workers should suffer no detriment—that they should not pay more in contributions or get less in retirement.
Grady made clear in her speech to congress that she intends to do things differently to former general secretary Sally Hunt.
Hunt had orchestrated walkouts by UCU staff at last year’s congress after facing criticism over her sabotaging of USS strikes.
Grady said she supported the right of UCU staff to organise. But she said, “I will never use staff as a shield to defend myself from criticism.”
Grady has also backed college workers fighting over pay, opposed racism and supported moves to make the union more democratic.
Socialist Worker had called for a vote for UCU Left candidate Jo McNeill, a proven campaigner who is part of the organised left within the union. Grady won nearly 48.7 percent of the vote in the first round, with Jo McNeill winning 25.5 percent—giving a combined left vote of over 74 percent.
The result can be a boost for workers who want their union to put up more of a fight to defend workers’ rights and education.