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In this issue: editorial, strike, casualisation, lancaster exchange, student politics, emeriti, gender stereotyping, new build, spineless, university future, widden’s review, penguins, letters.
‘Ultimately our aim is to protect our community’s wellbeing and our collegiate values,’ states the Director of HR in his email to all staff today, setting out the University’s official position on the UCU strike which begins tomorrow. The acting Vice-Chancellor made similar noises in his email on 5 February: ‘We are committed to being a good and fair employer in rewarding you for the work that you do, enabling you to achieve a good work/life balance and supporting your wellbeing.’
This picture of a hilltop vigil contrasts jarringly with a recent open letter on bullying and victimisation at Lancaster, signed by over 400 students, staff, alumni and trade unionists, and handed to the acting Vice-Chancellor in person on 12 February:
‘We are appalled that the University is facing an Employment Tribunal hearing for the trade union victimisation of Dr Julie Hearn, President of UCU’s Lancaster branch. […] The intimidation and bullying of workers and trade unionists at Lancaster University is endemic.’
The acting Vice-Chancellor has promised to read the letter. UCU gave some background to the claims in an email to its members on 5 February:
‘Last year Lancaster UCU has brought three cases against a manager, including a collective grievance case involving 14 members of staff, resulting in two individual settlements. Despite our warnings to the employer since 15 September 2019 that Julie, as president of Lancaster UCU branch has been left open to reprisals and is experiencing detriment on a daily basis, the employer has failed in their statutory duty to protect her, and consequently Julie has been signed off with work-related stress. She is thus unable to carry out her role as branch president and HEC member at a crucial point in two national disputes. We now have an employment tribunal claim for trade union victimisation against the employer, with the preliminary hearing on 28 Feb.’
We hope this matter can reach a settlement before the tribunal hearing. For many of our staff, it will clearly be some time before they trust their employer to protect their wellbeing.
See you on the picket line.