Lancaster University bosses accused of bullying union president

Lancaster University and College Union (UCU) has accused a head of department of "bullying and harassment" in a statement released on social media.

Monday, 2nd March 2020, 4:38 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd March 2020, 4:53 pm
Staff on the picket line at Lancaster University.

The statement, entitled "Union branch president victimised by bullying managers", was shared by the Lancaster University Strike Facebook page on Friday, February 28.

It also accuses the university's human resources department, and senior management of "standing firmly behind the bully", as well as trying to gag the union.

Lancaster University said it refutes any allegation that a trade union representative has been victimised.

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Staff are staging three weeks of walk-outs at Lancaster University

The allegations come as the UCU leads three weeks of walk outs at the university as part of national strike action.Sunil Banga, Vice-President , Emily Heath, Secretary and Nils Markusson, Treasurer, of Lancaster University UCU released a statement on Monday March 2.

It said: "The employment tribunal preliminary hearing, Hearn vs. Lancaster University, for trade union victimisation of our branch president Julie Hearn, took place on February 28 in Manchester ET (Employment Tribunal).

"It’s a disgrace that we are in a situation where senior university managers have chosen to face reputational damage in ET rather than address the endemic managerial bullying going on in the university.

"UCU is very disappointed that management appears to be unwilling to resolve the issue internally, despite our reasonable proposals, and seem to be in complete denial of the current practice where senior managers are actively enabling the bullying culture.

"Indeed, we are appalled that instead of addressing trade union victimisation, HR propose to send Julie on an extended leave until August 2021, in return for the union to curtail any public discussion of bullying in the workplace.

"Lancaster UCU executive committee is considering going into formal dispute with the university on this matter.”

A spokesperson for Lancaster University said: "There was a collective grievance that has been fully investigated and re-examined a second time following an appeal with a new panel of staff not previously involved.

"The University is satisfied that all processes have been conducted fairly and have suggested mediation as a way forward.

"Lancaster University refutes any allegation that a trade union representative has been victimised and has submitted evidence to the external Tribunal Service in the hope that the matter can be resolved to reach the best outcome for all involved.

"The University received an application for research leave from the UCU president.

"The Faculty welcomed the application and considered it favourably.

"Lancaster University takes the health and wellbeing of its staff very seriously and uses occupational health as appropriate as a support for staff. We are very disappointed that internal talks to date have broken down and hope that UCU will engage in mediation to resolve matters."